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Liberty Media Leads $100 Million Funding Round For Gen Z Sports Channel Overtime As Bezos, Morgan Stanley Up Stakes

Forbes 8/9/2022 Jabari Young, Forbes Staff
In 2023, Overtime's Dan Porter plans to add more properties featuring female high school athletes. SportsPro via Getty Images © Provided by Forbes In 2023, Overtime's Dan Porter plans to add more properties featuring female high school athletes. SportsPro via Getty Images

As Dan Porter sat in the owner’s suite at Truist Park in Atlanta watching the Braves’ home opener on April 7, he made what he thought was a good investment pitch to Liberty Media chief executive Greg Maffei. Every generation, Porter told Maffei, has its “thing” — a new behavior. And when it comes to media consumption, the digital generation is aligned with Porter’s sports company, Overtime.

“I felt like I was pretty convincing,” Porter told Forbes. “People can take out a camera and they can make content. But can they build a brand? That’s our special sauce.”

On Tuesday, Overtime announced Liberty Media led a $100 million funding round that also includes investment firm Winslow Capital. They join previous investors, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Bezos Expeditions, Morgan Stanley’s Counterpoint Global fund and venture capital firm Sapphire, all of which increased their stake. Specific amounts weren’t made available.

Porter said the Series D doubled the company’s worth to more than $500 million. “I think we’re fairly valued in this competitive market,” Porter told Forbes.

Liberty Media goes deep

Overtime operates high school basketball league Overtime Elite, or OTE. The league guarantees high schoolers at least $100,000 to participate and offers another $100,000 for college expenses. In March, Overtime launched a second property, a seven-on-seven football league, OT7, in partnership with National Football League star Cam Newton.

Porter said Maffei had already taken a tour of OTE’s complex in Atlanta and Liberty executives “did an insane amount of due diligence” before committing money. “They went over every contract,” Porter told Forbes. “They even called our advertisers and really dug in.”

Launched in 2016 by Porter and his business partner, Zach Weiner, Overtime started as a social media platform. Over the years, it gained popularity for posting videos of top high school athletes. That helped it attract more investors, including venture capital powerhouse Andreessen Horowitz and National Basketball Association stars Kevin Durant, Trae Young and Carmelo Anthony.

In 2021, Overtime launched OTE after securing $80 million from investors including Bezos, private equity firm Blackstone Group and entertainer Drake. Overtime estimates it’s raised $250 million since 2016. Now Porter has lured Liberty Media’s money to expand e-commerce and operate OTE and OT7.

“We’ve built a really powerful brand that’s highly recognizable among the demographic of our fans,” Porter said. “It’s different than what the traditional sports leagues do.”

Liberty Media President and CEO Greg Maffei speaks during the Formula 1 Las Vegas Race 2023 announcement. Formula 1 via Getty Images © Provided by Forbes Liberty Media President and CEO Greg Maffei speaks during the Formula 1 Las Vegas Race 2023 announcement. Formula 1 via Getty Images

Liberty has a $13 billion market capitalization and owns satellite radio company Sirius XM, Live Nation, the Braves and Formula One Group, or F1. The investment in Overtime will be attributed to F1’s tracking stock, listed as “FWONA” on NASDAQ. Tracking stocks are used to gauge revenue for a particular division in a company’s portfolio.

Maffei said in a statement that Overtime had made an “industry-wide impact across sports and media” since its inception. Porter said Liberty’s involvement “is a recognition that the digital distribution of content and the young audience is important.”

Investors see growth for Overtime

Overtime estimates it makes north of $50 million in revenue thanks to its roughly 65 million followers across channels. The company has agreements with companies including State Farm, Gatorade and Meta, parent company of Facebook and Instagram. Overtime also leverages merchandise, e-commerce and licensing rights. In addition, it makes ticketing revenue from OTE games in Atlanta. The revenue figure doesn’t reflect the Overtime’s production cost around its events.

Still, Michael Spirito, a partner at Sapphire Sport, which led Overtime’s two previous funding rounds and includes it among the companies in a $115 million sports fund launched in 2019, told Forbes that Overtime is a “high growth company” that’s “outperformed” expectations on revenue. He said additional sports IP would enhance sponsorships. Also, “copycat behavior” by traditional sports networks around Overtime’s social media approach, such as using Gen Z slang in video captions, shows Overtime’s influence on the sports media landscape.

The big picture, Spirito said, is that traditional media outlets didn’t give younger consumers the appropriate attention. “I think Overtime is proving that’s a generation that has a voice,” he said. “It’s a generation that has wallet share and a generation that wants to be included.”

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