January 28, 2022

What We’re Reading: January 2022

Major acquisitions throughout all areas of sports

Last month we took a look at shifts in team ownership, and shortly after the new year there were a couple of major acquisitions causing major shifts in company ownership as well. First, it was announced that Fanatics secured exclusive trading card rights with the MLB, forcing Topps to cancel highly anticipated plans to go public via a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC). Then, Fanatics acquired the iconic Topps Company, allowing them to hit the ground running on baseball card production. Fanatics is no stranger to striking deals ahead of its competition, and have been seizing opportunities throughout their history to make themselves an industry leader in sports apparel and memorabilia. 

Another major deal announced earlier this month was the The New York Times Company’s purchase of The Athletic, one of the fastest growing online sports new outlets. This acquisition adds 1.2 million subscribers on the New York Times’ march toward their goal of 10 million. As news continues to shift to online platforms, The Times has been one of the few outlets to keep up, maintaining profitability and growing their customer base year over year.

A third major deal, and quite possibly the biggest was Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. With the continued rise of the Metaverse and Esports, Microsoft establishes itself as the third largest gaming company in the world.

Everyone wants to be like F1

Since its inception, Netflix’s Drive to Survive series has been a hit. From providing an increase in global viewership for F1 races, to adding fans that do not traditionally care about sports, the show’s impact on the sport has been undeniable. It has now been renewed for a fourth season which will be highly anticipated following the dramatic ending to this year’s racing season. This month, the PGA tour announced that they too will have a Netflix series that hopes to piggyback on the style and success of Drive to Survive. They hope that by pulling back the curtain, they can cater to a new generation of fans in the same manner as F1. 

On the subject of sports related series, the longest running sports docu-drama series has been HBO’s Hard Knocks, which typically details an NFL team’s training camp and has been around since 2001. They have struggled with ratings in recent years as many people feel the league already provides significant access through other media avenues, and the stories throughout the series feel repetitive after so many seasons. This year, HBO has decided to switch it up and  feature a team during the regular season in hopes that they can reinvigorate the series and attract a larger fanbase. Early reviews indicate that the storylines were relatively the same. It will be interesting to continue following the growth and changes in this genre to see how the series affect viewership and even fan demographics for their respective sports.