×

Sports-Betting Venture Action Network Raises $17.5 Million From Ex-UFC Owners, Chernin Group, Pro Sports Teams

All bets are on for the Action Network, the sports-wagering content and analytics roll-up formed by Peter Chernin’s Chernin Group. The company closed $17.5 million in Series B funding led by Fertitta Capital, the investment firm of former UFC owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta.

The Chernin Group, which created the Action Network in October 2017 and furnished seed capital, also re-invested in the company. With the new funding, Chernin Group remains the largest shareholder in Action Network but is not the majority owner.

Also participating in the Action Network’s funding round were the Chicago Cubs, owned by the Ricketts family; David Blitzer of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, which owns stakes in the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils; esports investor BitKraft Esports Ventures; 6721 Capital, founded by sports marketing exec Casey Wasserman and Code Advisors; and SoFi CEO Anthony Noto (formerly Twitter’s COO).

The Action Network’s backers see huge potential growth for the sports-wagering content biz, after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1992 law that had banned sports gambling nationwide. Sports betting is now legal in eight states and more than a dozen other states are considering legislation to legalize it.

The company provides sports-gambling news, how-to articles, and analysis, as well as real-time odds and the ability to track bets via its website and app.

“We see an incredible opportunity as we focus on securing the necessary approvals in regulated U.S. sports betting jurisdictions as well as those around the world,” Action Network CEO Patrick Keane said in a statement. The company last fall hired Keane, who was formerly CBS Interactive’s chief marketing officer and CEO of Associated Content, as well as a former board member of Bleacher Report. He was an original seed-stage investor in the Action Network.

With the funding round, Mike Kerns, president of Chernin Digital, was named the chairman of Action Network. Nakisa Bidarian, CEO of Fertitta Capital, is joining as a director.

“We are thrilled to welcome Fertitta Capital, and this exceptional group of sports, media and technology investors into the fold, as we build the next phase of the Action Network,” Kerns said in announcing the funding. He said the investment “will help us expand our audience reach and depth of product offerings for years to come.”

The Action Network launched in January 2018, after Chernin Group merged three companies it had acquired: Mark Cuban-backed FantasyLabs, Sports Insights, and SportsAction.

In addition to Keane, the company’s hires include Darren Rovell, former ESPN sports business writer; Rob Perez (aka “WorldWideWob”), former host of co-branded ESPN/Cycle Media production “Buckets”; and Jason Sobel, formerly a writer with ESPN and Golf Channel.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Google Assistant example

    How Google Found Its Voice

    A few years back, Google was actively exploring whether it should launch a male counterpart to Amazon’s female Alexa voice assistant. “When we first launched the Google Assistant, we intended to use a male voice, just to be different,” recalled Google Assistant product manager Brant Ward recently. However, at the time, text-to-speech technology was still [...]

  • Podium Publishing Taps Scott P. Dickey

    Podium Publishing Taps Scott P. Dickey as Chief Executive Officer

    Independent audiobook publisher Podium Publishing has selected veteran media executive Scott P. Dickey as chief executive officer. Greg Lawrence, former CEO and co-founder,  remains as Podium’s publisher and a member of the board of directors. As CEO, Dickey will set and implement the day-to-day and long-term marketing, production and business strategy for the company as [...]

  • "The Stockholm Syndrome" - Pictured: Rajesh

    Inside the Blockbuster $600 Million 'Big Bang Theory' Streaming Deal With HBO Max

    As one of TV’s most popular shows of the past 20 years, “The Big Bang Theory” was sure to command a huge price when the streaming rights were finally shopped in a red-hot market for iconic comedies with large libraries. But “Big Bang Theory” wasn’t shopped widely on the open market before the streaming pact [...]

  • Mark Zuckerberg Facebook

    Mark Zuckerberg Can Be Overruled by Facebook's New Oversight Board on Content Decisions

    Mark Zuckerberg, chairman and CEO of Facebook, can’t be ousted by investors — he owns a controlling interest in the company’s voting shares. But according to the social giant, the new Oversight Board — colloquially called Facebook’s “Supreme Court” — that it is setting up to adjudicate appeals about whether to leave up or take [...]

  • YouTube - Google UK Offices

    Google Launches Ability to Find Key Moments in YouTube Videos via Search

    Google has introduced a new way to find exact moments in YouTube videos through its search engine, with initial partners including CBS Sports. According to Google, search results now will provide links to key moments within the video — if, that is, YouTube content creators have provided the necessary timestamp information to Google. “You’ll be [...]

  • Spotify logo is presented on a

    Spotify VP Paul Vogel Talks Subscription Prices, Label Licenses, Podcasts

    The annual Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference gives representatives from major companies the opportunity to present to the investment community, and Paul Vogel, Spotify’s VP and head of financial planning & analysis, treasury and investor relations, spoke on the streaming giant’s behalf on Tuesday morning. While many of his comments were statements frequently heard in the [...]

  • Directv Now

    AT&T Sued for Allegedly Creating Bogus DirecTV Now Accounts

    A group of investors sued AT&T, alleging the telco artificially inflated subscriber counts for its DirecTV Now streaming service — including by creating fake accounts. In the federal class-action lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that AT&T wanted to make DirecTV Now seem more successful than it actually was as another way to rationalize its $85 billion [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content