Jan 30, 2024 - Business

Minute Media valued at over $1B after new round of funding

Illustration of a unicorn statue on top of a stack of cash.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Minute Media, the parent company to sports and entertainment sites like The Players' Tribune and Mental Floss, has raised a new round of funding, valuing the firm at over $1 billion, CEO and founder Asaf Peled told Axios.

Why it matters: Amid an otherwise grim digital media landscape, Minute Media has continually raised cash while also becoming profitable, thanks to its niche focus on digital sports video.

  • Of note: The company has also grown amid difficult circumstances. About one-third of its 500 employees are based in Tel Aviv. Many, Peled said, are on active military duty.

Details: The new funding, totaling "tens of millions," closed a few weeks ago ahead of Minute Media's acquisition of STN Video, a sports streaming platform based in Canada.

  • The round saw participation from big institutional investors, including HSBC and BlackRock.

The money, Peled said, was "effectively raised in parallel to the acquisition" to finance the deal, in addition to using Minute Media's equity.

  • The deal, reportedly valued around $150 million, marks Minute Media's sixth and largest acquisition to date.
  • STN Video is profitable. All 70 STN employees will be joining the Minute Media team.

Between the lines: STN works with major sports leagues in the U.S. to distribute clips from their games across various social and video platforms.

  • In some situations, like video and tech licensing with the big U.S. sports leagues, STN will retain its brand. In other areas, Minute Media will merge some of its capabilities with STN's.
  • "I believe that they only approached us for a sale. It was not a shopping process," Peled said, describing the mutually beneficial relationship.

By the numbers: Minute Media became profitable for the first time last quarter. It's generating approximately $300 million in top-line sales, per Peled.

  • To date, the company has raised well over $250 million from various strategic investors and private investment firms.
  • It raised more than $40 million in 2021 from several companies, including sports betting company FanDuel and casino giant Wynn, and it raised another $40 million at a $500 million valuation in 2020.
  • It was reported in June 2021 that Minute Media had explored an IPO valuing the company at over $1 billion.

The big picture: Minute Media makes the bulk of its money by licensing monetization and distribution tech to other publishers, particularly around sports, through its proprietary tech platform called Voltax.

  • In recent years, the company has gotten more involved with sports betting companies, such as FanDuel, which partnered with Minute Media to create The Duel, its digital platform focused on fantasy sports and sports betting news.
  • "In the long term, we want to make sure that we continue to scale both our technology platform and our leadership in short-form sports content, and STN brings both," Peled said.

What to watch: Reports suggest Minute Media could be in the running to acquire the publishing rights to Sports Illustrated, now that The Arena Group's contract with Authentic Brands Group has been terminated.

  • A spokesperson told Axios that while they cannot share any information regarding Sports Illustrated, "Minute Media is in a very favorable acquisitive spot with access to a lot of capital. With that, we are always keeping our eye on what makes sense for the business and our continually growing portfolio."
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