The teaming brings together the media division of the dominant sports league in the U.S. with the new sports arm of the David Ellison-led entity behind Top Gun: Maverick and a range of other top film, TV and streaming titles.
In announcing the deal, the league said Skydance Media and the NFL are making “substantial investments” in the new studio operation, with the league’s buy-in coming via its strategic investment arm 32 Equity. The announcement cited “significant market demand for non-game sports content, both scripted and unscripted” as the main motivation for the new studio.
Skydance Sports, which launched earlier this year, just completed production on its first two projects for Amazon Prime Video: the soccer docuseries Good Rivals and an untitled Air Jordan film starring Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and directed by Affleck.
“This partnership truly matches two companies who are considered among the best at what they do,” NFL Chief Media and Business Officer Brian Rolapp said. “Combining the unscripted expertise and storytelling of NFL Films with Skydance’s leadership position in TV, film, animation, and other areas will create the leading sports content studio in the world.”
Ellison, CEO of Skydance Media, called it an “honor” to be in business with “the most prestigious and far-reaching brands in sports” in the NFL and NFL FIlms. “The opportunities for storytelling, consumer resonance and success are endless,” he added, and the new studio venture “is poised to deliver some of the most compelling sports content of our generation.”
NFL Films traces its roots back 60 years and has amassed 136 Sports Emmys in its history, with its stable of franchises including Hard Knocks. As it contributes to the new venture, the NFL division plans to continue producing its full slate of programming.
“The team at NFL Films is incredibly excited by this partnership and the opportunity it presents to take the next step in our evolution,” NFL Films Senior Executive Ross Ketover said. “Through this new venture, we will be able to expand our storytelling acumen into different areas of content by tapping into the expertise and creativity of a highly accomplished media company in Skydance.”
Skydance Media President & COO Jesse Sisgold said the initial ambitions of Skydance Sports, set forth a year ago, were in line with the NFL team-up. “Partnering with the NFL and NFL Films gives us the power, privilege and expertise to do this at the highest level possible all while celebrating sports, teams, and athletes around the world,” he said.