Sensing an opportunity in what it calls an “underserved” sports wagering and fantasy marketplace worth upwards of $170 billion overall, the Chernin Group has formed a sports analysis and media company called The Action Network.
The network encompasses the separate units Sports Insights, FantasyLabs and SportsAction. Chad Millman, a 16-year ESPN veteran who held several top editorial and content posts there, including editor in chief of ESPN The Magazine will be Action’s head of media. The Chernin Group is also making a primary capital investment that will help build out the new network’s management team and brand.
It is not the first investment in sports for Peter Chernin’s multimedia concern. The company has bought into fast-growing millennial-skewing brand Barstool Sports and subscription editorial play The Athletic.
Blending analysis, tools and entertainment, the Action Network will target “the massive audience of sports fans who watch games with something at stake as well as those who just want to be in the know,” as a press release put it.
Its three main units will give the new venture a three-pronged approach. Sports Insights, founded in 1999, leverages public betting trend data available from sports books to offer information and betting services. FantasyLabs, whose investors include Mark Cuban, offers daily fantasy sports players with proprietary data and tools, helping them assemble their lineups. And SportsAction, which was incubated with the Chernin Group, is a native app platform serving up scores, odds and picks tracking. Its analysis is intended for both casual and very engaged sports bettors.
Existing employees with the three units will join the Action Network and their founders will stay on and help provide management and editorial oversight. Mike Kerns, Chernin Group’s president of digital, praised Millman’s “experience launching new media brands, passion and expertise in the wagering media business, and network within the media industry.”
Cuban described his investment in Fantasy Labs as “a bet on the future of how people consume sports–with something at stake. The company’s acquisition by The Chernin Group and the creation of The Action Network reaffirm that this market is underserved. I’m thrilled to be involved with a company poised to become the leader in the rapidly growing industry of sports speculation, analytics and media.”
Millman said his enthusiasm for the new combined network grew as he and Kerns discussed the blueprint for it. “I’ve long believed in the power of the conversation that flows from betting and fantasy,” he said, “because those are the prisms through which so many fans watch sports. And that audience is only going to grow. This is a total thrill.”