Wave.tv Secures $32 Million to License, Acquire Sports Media Brands

Funds will also fuel growth across social platforms like TikTok

The digital sports media company has prospered despite the pandemic. Wave.tv

With most live sports on hold for the past several months, sports media publishers have had to stretch their imaginations to find interesting stories to show and tell. Wave.tv, a digital media company built around working with license holders to repackage archival sports, hopes to invest more in that strategy—and it’s doing it with a $32 million Series A funding round.

Led by CoVenture and GPS Partners, as well as previous investors including Golden Ventures and Sweet Capital, this round is in equity and debt.

The funds will be put toward licensing, and even acquiring, new sports media brands, as well as growing across social media platforms that target Gen Z and millennials such as TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram.

“It’ll be interesting to see how Wave scales with this new round of funding, but I like their chances,” said Greg Tedesco, evp of digital and performance marketing at agency Zeno Group. “It lives through social, it’s where people are consuming content, it’s powered by users. There’s a lot of potential there.”

So far, Wave.tv executives have focused on growing brands that were “undersaturated,” according to co-founder and president Ishaan Sutaria. The tactic has led them to create over a dozen “brands,” covering cheer, amateur athletes and “women redefining sports.”

Its main account on Instagram, Wave.tv, has grown to more than 3 million followers. “We’ve been more keen than others to start brands covering niche fandoms,” Sutaria said.

Under licensing agreements, Wave.tv uses intellectual property from more than 40 partners across leagues and rights holders, repurposing footage and content to interest scrolling users. The strategy has benefited the company since the coronavirus pandemic has put a stop to most live sports.

Despite only beginning to monetize last year, and the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Wave.tv is projected to double its revenue by the end of this year, according to co-founder and CEO Brian Verne.

The company also just announced a new partnership with sports and talent behemoth IMG to access its franchises, including Euroleague Basketball, Edge Sport and World’s Strongest Man. Wave.tv will repurpose that content across channels that include Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. “They provided a unique opportunity for our brands to engage with today’s sports fans in entertaining new ways,” said Rebecca Levin, director of media at IMG.

Wave.tv will handle direct and programmatic advertising for those new properties. It’s already secured advertising campaigns viewable on their channels from brands including Miller Lite and Under Armour. The company claims its videos generate 3.2 billion monthly views and reach over 200 million fans each month.

With the new funding, Sutaria and Verne hope to expand into new brand areas and acquire others. They’ll also staff up online and are preparing to hire nearly two dozen staffers across the business.

“We are very much in growth mode,” Verne said.

Rachel Winicov contributed to this report.

@SaraJerde sara.jerde@adweek.com Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.