Source: Slamball LLC
Are you ready for some … SlamBall?
A star-studded lineup of investors in and around sports are jumping into the sport, which is a mashup of football, basketball and trampolines that was buzzy for a short time in the early 2000s.
The investment comes as SlamBall plans to relaunch this summer, more than 20 years after the alternative sport was shut down in the U.S. as ratings fell in its second season.
SlamBall recently closed an $11 million Series A funding round led by Roger Ehrenberg’s IA Sports Ventures and Eberg Capital, a stakeholder in MLB’s Miami Marlins.
Other top investors participating in the funding round include David Blitzer of Blackstone and founder of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin, VaynerMedia founder Gary Vaynerchuk, Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils co-owner David Adelman and Blake Griffin, a six-time NBA All-Star who now plays for the Boston Celtics.
It took founder and CEO Mason Gordon and Mike Tollin – a producer behind the popular Chicago Bulls docuseries “The Last Dance” who helped launch the league the first time – nine months to secure their full roster of investors.
Source: Slamball LLC
SlamBall is set to return as a six-week series, plus a seventh week for playoffs, in July. It will be played in Las Vegas. Games last roughly 20 minutes, and a set of three are played per night.
“We wouldn’t come back until the market conditions were optimal for alternative sports and we had the investor group we wanted,” Tollin said. The founders say SlamBall is to the NBA what the UFC is to boxing.
Live sports remains one of the few mainstays on traditional TV that continues to rake in high ratings as people flee the cable-TV bundle and opt for streaming. Platforms like Disney‘s ESPN+, Paramount Global‘s Paramount+, Comcast’s Peacock and Amazon’s Prime Video have also been bulking up on sports rights, even securing alternative sports to attract more subscribers.
SlamBall’s founders are still in discussions with potential distribution partners, but they plan to have games aired on a traditional TV network, a streaming service and a social media platform. Tollins and Gordon said they are in advanced talks with top broadcast and streaming distributors, and conversations were continuing this week. They wouldn’t comment on potential partners.
SlamBall originally aired on The National Network, which later became Spike TV, in the early 2000s.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, which owns CNBC.