LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Wave Sports + Entertainment, one of the fastest growing sports and entertainment companies with more than 110 million followers globally, has closed more than $27 million in Series B funding and added industry veteran Rich Battista to its board, the company announced today. TZP Group led the round with participation from Crossbeam Venture Partners and GPS Investment Partners. Also joining the round are Verance Capital, led by Lyle Ayes, and Nimble Ventures, led by John Burbank. 2022 National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks joins the round as a strategic partner. Series B investors join existing investors Golden Ventures, Sweet Capital, and Henrik Kraft, as well as Cleveland Browns Quarterback Baker Mayfield, and sports personality and investor Jay Williams.
Battista will serve as the Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of Wave Sports + Entertainment (WSE). He brings significant experience leading large-scale multi-platform companies in the entertainment and media industries and extensive experience in sports media and content. He has overseen the sale of two multi-billion dollar publicly traded companies as CEO of Time, Inc. and CEO of Gemstar-TV Guide. He currently serves as a board member of Major League Baseball Players, Inc. and is a strategic advisor and executive producer at Time Studios. Battista also enjoyed a long career at Fox, including overseeing the company’s portfolio of national sports and entertainment cable networks such as FX, National Geographic Channel, and numerous sports networks. Additionally, he was previously CEO of Mandalay Sports Media.
The new round of funding allows WSE to accelerate the launch and scale of new and existing media brands, talent-led original shows, and premium programming geared towards today’s highly-engaged superfans. WSE will also focus on developing best-in-class sports betting content, in addition to a suite of consumer products and experiences to extend fan engagement in real life. Finally, significant resources will be committed to technological innovations, such as advancing WSE’s proprietary predictive content management and analytics platform.
“Sports storytelling is timeless, and this simple concept is at the heart of WSE’s vision,” said Brian Verne, Co-founder and CEO, WSE. “WSE represents the future of sports and entertainment for an entire generation of new fans. We are evolving legacy sports media by creating content that resonates with today’s audiences and that is designed for the digital formats where they spend most of their time.”
“The sports media industry will be radically transformed in the near future as Gen-Z and millennials redefine traditional concepts of fandom," said Rich Battista. "WSE has a thorough grasp on the rapidly evolving media consumption habits of younger sports fans, making it uniquely positioned to reshape sports media for the next generation. I look forward to working alongside Brian and his team to guide WSE to its fullest potential.”
“WSE is leading the shift to creating digital superfans by engaging audiences where, when, and how they want to consume sports content,” said Shamit Mehta, Partner at TZP Growth Equity. “We believe athletes, leagues, and companies will have a new way to connect with younger audiences through WSE’s successful brands.”
In addition to Battista who joins as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mehta will join the board of directors of WSE alongside existing members Andrea Wong (Liberty Media, Roblox, Sony, Lifetime), Sean Atkins (Jellysmack, MTV, Discovery), Glen Chesir (GPS Investment Partners), as well as Verne. After the closing of the Series B financing in July, Ishaan Sutaria, who co-founded WSE with Verne in 2017, stepped down as co-CEO and a member of the board of directors to pursue other business ventures.
WSE is the top sports publisher to leading digital platforms. Among WSE’s premier media brands are BUCKETS, FTBL, GYM HEROES, HAYMAKERS, and JUKES. In December 2021, WSE rebranded from WAVE.tv and introduced a new corporate brand identity.
About Wave Sports + Entertainment
Wave Sports + Entertainment is a world class sports and entertainment company serving modern day fans via content, products, and experiences. We obsess over sports, from the mainstream to more, bringing superfans the coverage, culture, commentary, and community they crave. With over 110 million highly-engaged global followers and a reach of over 500 million sports fans monthly, we’ve tapped into something incredibly powerful in record time.
Digital platforms love us. We are a top sports partner to Snap, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. We’ve earned bragging rights by creating some of the most popular sports media brands available on digital platforms today, including BUCKETS, FTBL, GYM HEROES, HAYMAKERS, and JUKES. No matter the sport, we’ve got fans covered with highlights, memes, takes, commentary, analysis, off-field culture, and stories on the players and movements that are shaping the world of sports.
To see our media brands in action, please go to www.wave.tv.
*Wave Sports + Entertainment is incorporated as Bullpen Sports Network, Inc.