Weekly Column: Sports Leagues as Entertainment Studios

In his capacity as a Columnist for California Sports Lawyer®, Founder Jeremy Evans has written a column about the collaboration between the National Football League and Skydance, two traditionally separate entertainment and sports entities.  

You can read the full column below.


Sports leagues, the franchises, the players, media, and fans are entertainment content. Sports leagues and teams are further learning how to utilize or monetize the content already being created by games for scripted and unscripted content. Hard Knocks, Drive to Survive, and other films and series are just two examples of sports content being treated like entertainment content through docuseries and unscripted content.

Content is the hunger of the masses. Studios and streamers are having a difficult time keeping up with the appetite of the people. The content delivery side of the entertainment industry is much more aligned now than ever before on looking for ways to share content on platforms and forgoing long-term exclusivity.

Sports are in and of themselves stories. Stories to be told. Stories that happen live right before the viewers eyes.

Evidence that the National Football League (“NFL”) sees itself as an entertainment creator and producer is no more evident in the deal to create Skydance Sports, the joint studio venture formed by Skydance Media and the NFL. Yes, Skydance Media, LLC, the company run by Hollywood and sports industry titans like David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Don Granger, Jesse Sisgold, and Larry Wasserman. The same Skydance recognized for feature films from the Mission Impossible series, Top Gun: Maverick, and television series like Reacher.

It is of note that Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer has Producers Guild of America (“PGA”) credit on films with Skydance even though he runs his own production company. Actor Tom Cruise is also the top-billed talent in many of the films mentioned mainly through Paramount and Bruckheimer. Bruckheimer has been a Los Angeles sports fan for years, but his recent ownership in the Seattle Kraken franchise in the National Hockey League (“NHL”) furthered opened the door to collaboration between sports and entertainment. The Kraken franchise is owned by Seattle Hockey Partners, an organization consisting of David Bonderman, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Tod Leiweke (formerly in leadership with the Seattle Sounders FC (Major League Soccer), Seattle Seahawks (NFL), and Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL)). Better yet, live sports as secondary scripted and unscripted content is becoming a normal occurrence.

The collaboration between entertainment and sports could not come at a more opportune time when the Writers Guild of America (“WGA”) and SAG-AFRTA are negotiating or coming to terms on union contracts, but in the meantime work stoppages are showing their effects. Sports content and productions are generally non-union work or usually exempt so such collaborations between entertainment and sports businesses could be trial-proof. Meaning, even with a Hollywood strike, sports production would continue making content and potential for profit through marketing, advertisement, and sales. Having Skydance, another true Hollywood player, involved in sports content production is an essential change towards more collaboration or use of sports as a content library.

The possibilities are endless. So are the questions. For example, would SAG-AFTRA or the WGA consider taking on athletes as actors and writers for unionization purposes? The sports leagues, franchises, agents, and athletes themselves might have something to say about that, whether negative or positive.


About Jeremy M. Evans:

Jeremy M. Evans is the Chief Entrepreneur Officer, Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clients in contractual, intellectual property, and dealmaking matters. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles and Newport Beach, California. He can be reached at Jeremy@CSLlegal.com. www.CSLlegal.com.  

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Jeremy M. Evans is the CEO, Founder & Managing Attorney of California Sports Lawyer® representing entertainment, media, and sports clients and is licensed to practice law in California.