NFL, Skydance Partner for Sports Content Venture

The National Football League is taking a serious pass at making premium content, entering a joint production venture with David Ellison’s Skydance.

The NFL and its NFL Films division announced Tuesday it will work Skydance’s sports vertical to make a broad range of programming. The studio behind “Top Gun: Maverick” has experience in scripted and unscripted film, TV, animation and interactive. The football league entered into the deal via its strategic investment arm 32 Equity.

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“We feel this partnership truly matches two companies who are considered among the best at what they do,” said NFL chief media and business officer Brian Rolapp. “Combining the unscripted expertise and storytelling of NFL Films with Skydance’s leadership position in TV, film, animation and other areas will create the leading sports content studio in the world.”

Ellison added that he could “not be prouder to partner with the NFL to build Skydance Sports into the premiere global sports content studio… and the opportunities for storytelling, consumer resonance and success are endless.”

Inaugural development properties and their respective mediums were not immediately clear. Skydance has had a remarkable year with the $1.5 billion grossing “Top Gun” sequel, the biggest release in Paramount Pictures history. The sports vertical just completed production on its first two projects (to be distributed by Amazon Prime Video): the soccer docuseries “Good Rivals,” and the anticipated Ben Affleck-Matt Damon reunion on a film about Nike’s relentless pursuit of a Michael Jordan endorsement deal.

Founded 60 years ago in New Jersey, NFL Films has had surprising longevity and has produced series like “Hard Knocks.” Its autonomous slate will move forward outside the Skydance deal’s purview.

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