Andy Howard first met Gotham Chopra over a decade ago when their children were together in preschool. That relationship led to a recent $50 million Series B funding round led by Shamrock Capital, where Howard is a partner in Chopra’s production company Religion of Sports, which was co-founded in 2017 with the NFL legends. Tom Brady and Michael Strahan.
Other investors in the round, which ended on May 19, include Eldridge, the company run by Todd Boehly, which recently bought Premier League club Chelsea FC; Elysian Park Ventures, a fund founded by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owners including Boehly and Mark Walter; and Cerro Capital, a sports-focused fund recently created by Andy Nestor, Ashish Patel and Thomas Rudy.
Co-founder Gotham Chopra (left) and CEO Ameeth Sankaran.courtesy of sports religion
Shamrock Capital was eager to invest in a market leader. “Clearly, there is a strong demand for premium non-fiction content from consumers and streaming platforms, and Religion of Sports is at the forefront of this,” Howard said. “It’s a great platform built on trust, collaboration and unique relationships.”
This latest round of funding brings Religion of Sports to a total of $66 million raised over three rounds. Shari Redstone’s Advancit Capital led a $3 million venture capital round in 2018, and Elysian led a $13 million Series A round in 2020. According to Religion of Sports CEO Ameeth Sankaran, revenue from the company in 2022 grew by more than 50% year-over-year, with similar growth expected for 2023.
Sankaran said the capital injection will give Religion of Sports the ability to grow through acquisitions. “There are a lot of businesses in this area, whether you’re talking about graphics businesses, unscripted businesses, or businesses like ours in different geographies,” Sankaran said. “They might not be as capitalized or don’t have the right infrastructure, so it’s about finding ways to engage them.”
Sankaran added that Religion of Sports will now be able to invest more in developing projects without first securing a distribution deal, allowing for additional creative freedom and a more compelling pitch for potential talent: “Forget the networking stuff, we’re just going to be your partner and we’re going to invest in creating something great.
Religion of Sports gained an early foothold with critically acclaimed documentaries featuring stars like Brady, Simone Biles, and Kobe Bryant, among others.
The company has 17 unscripted projects in development, most of them slated for release in 2023, and has partnered with four features in its fledgling scripted vertical. Upcoming projects that have yet to be announced involve former Olympian Alexi Pappas and comedian Trevor Noah, with distribution partners on Amazon, ESPN, Netflix and Showtime. “Man in the Arena,” Tom Brady’s recent 10-part docuseries for ESPN+, just won the Sports Emmy for Outstanding Documentary Series. This is the third win and sixth nomination for a Religion of Sports production.