Some really smart guys are betting that sports media content and rights are going to remain hot.
Wyc Grousbeck, the managing partner and CEO of the Boston Celtics since he and other investors paid $360 million for the storied NBA team in 2002, has launched a fund that will invest in sports media properties. News of the fund was first reported by Dow Jones LBO Wire.
The fund’s partners also include Bob Higgins (founder, Highland Capital Partners) and Mark Wan (founder, Three Arch Partners, and minority investor in the Celtics and the and NFL’s San Francisco 49ers). Grousbeck, Higgings and Wan, who have raised $84 million thus far for their new fund, have invested together successfully before and also have stellar investment track records.
Grousbeck told me today: “Our new fund intends to invest in developing and optimizing sports media content. We will look at traditional sports as well as emerging sports across every distribution platform. It takes specialized knowledge and committed capital to fully maximize the value of a team’s media rights. We have partnered with several other pro team owners as well as media executives and professional investors to form this fund.”
Grousbeck’s added that his recent experience in forming a new media partnership for the Celtics with Comcast was instrumental in seeing the opportunity for this fund. That deal both significantly increased the basketball’s team annual cable rights fee and gave the owners and equity stake in the RSN. Although the big media money in sports comes from national broadcasting deals with Walt Disney ‘s ABC and ESPN and Time Warner’s TNT, digital revenues are expected to grow rapidly. Prime example: two days ago the Wall Street Journal reported that Verizon will pay $1 billion over four years for the rights to air more NFL games over its customers’ smartphones, a nearly 40% increase over the previous deal.In January Forbes valued the Celtics at $730 million, fourth-most in the 30 team league.