Meadowlark Media, the content studio founded by former ESPN president John Skipper and ESPN radio host Dan Le Batard, wants a sports content franchise to call its own. And so the production company is launching its most ambitious content effort yet, a multi-platform series called Sports Explains the World.
What's the deal?
The series will consist of 30 documentaries (about 22-30 minutes long) and 45 enterprise podcasts (most one-off stories, but some with multiple episodes), using sports-related stories to reveal greater truths about the world and society.
Some of the stories in the works stem from Ukraine and Ethiopia, but also include topics closer to home, like a look at the 300 or so Kobe Bryant murals around Los Angeles. Curt Schilling’s infamous 38 Studios debacle and Wilt Chamberlain’s legacy are among the subjects of the podcasts in development.
The bottom line:
“We are putting a stake in the ground that we are going to be a storytelling company,” Skipper tells The Hollywood Reporter. “When we launched the company, what we wanted to do overwhelmingly is to tell stories. Both in the number of podcasts we do and in our video. And one of the great ways to tell a story is to have an anthology series in which to put those.”
The agreement would pave the way for the media giant to capitalize on the growing wave of legalized sports betting. ESPN could begin producing DraftKings-sponsored programming or content on statistics and betting.
While Disney will almost certainly get a cut of gambling revenues, it will not handle wagers itself. In a recent interview, CEO Bob Chapek stated that “ESPN is never going to be a sportsbook,” and instead was looking for a “respected” partner to handle wagers.
The Times wants the Athletic to be profitable in three years, but it’s losing money now: $6.8 million in February and March of this year and another $12.6 million in the second quarter, according to the Times public filings, which is a significant drag on the company’s bottom line.
“The space for what the Athletic does is massive,” Perpich said. “And when you think about the different moments in somebody’s life, as you’re building an essential subscription, there’s the news; there’s food; there’s games. Sports is one of those big things as well. And that’s why we made the largest acquisition we have in 30 years.”
Learn firsthand from two Hashtag Sports’ Creators of Color honorees—Chanel Smith, Baltimore Ravens’ Digital Strategy and Innovation Coordinator, and Travis Ellison, Professional Sports Photographer, and owner of his own media agency. Not only are they both creating epic visual storytelling content for the best of the best sports brands, but they’re shaping the overall professional sports industry through their unique lenses.
In this webinar on October 25 at 12 PM ET, learn how Travis and Chanel forged their career paths in the sports media and entertainment industry despite being traditionally underrepresented in front office teams, go behind the scenes of their game day content workflows, and hear about their experience with the Creators of Color program.
In an expansion of their partnership, Twitter will show live segments and highlights via @MLB, @BleacherReport, @BRWalkoff, @ESPN, @MLBonFOX, and other accounts. Other content will be produced by @MLBNetwork.
For the social media platform, they’ve seen high levels of engagement all season long with much of it reaching outside the U.S. and Canada. According to Twitter in an exclusive to Forbes, 18% of people who tweeted about MLB globally this season had not done so during the 2021 season, thus showing growth in fan interest on the platform.
Charles Barkley is nearing a new deal with WarnerMedia after flirting with LIV Golf. WarnerBrothers Discovery chief content officer of U.S. networks Kathleen Finch spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about Sir Charles’ contract talks, and expressed that the likely new deal will encompass more than NBA coverage.
“Well, that’s a lucky problem to have. Last week, I had lunch with Charles—who is just a lovely man. It was really fun to sit down with him and celebrate his new contract, because he is such a fabulous part of that team and he is just such a really special guy,” Finch said. “I’m excited to find other ways to put him on television talking about something other than basketball. Because he has a lot to say. He’s just a regular guy interested in a lot of things. I got him excited about Celebrity IOU.”
Major League Baseball, pioneering CBD brand Charlotte’s Web strike groundbreaking deal
Major League Baseball is the first professional sports league to form a sponsorship agreement with a CBD company—Charlotte’s Web is now the first “Official CBD of Major League Baseball.” In June 2022, MLB officially opened the category for the league and its Clubs allowing sponsorships with CBD companies that are NSF Certified for Sport®. The partnership makes MLB a strategic partner in Charlotte’s Web’s NSF-Certified for Sport® line and underscores the long-term value opportunity of entering the U.S. CBD market, which topped $4.7 billion in total sales in 2021.