Meadowlark Media, the content company founded by former ESPN president John Skipper and radio and podcast host Dan Le Batard, has landed its first audio production deal, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The company has been commissioned by the BBC to produce a new podcast for the series Sport’s Strangest Crimes.
“This is a victory in that we have a commission from a second buyer,” Skipper said, adding that it builds on the deal signed with DraftKings for Le Batard’s programs. “We do have ambitions to be a global supplier of sports content, so for us it represents a step outside of the Le Batard universe, and a partnership with a prestigious company, the BBC, and content in Europe.”
The new eight-episode podcast, which will be released in February 2022, will follow the story of Anthony Curcio, an athlete who was also involved in “one of the most elaborate heists in U.S. history.” Meadowlark head of audio Carl Scott will oversee the project for the company.
While Meadowlark’s projects have been audio-based thus far, Skipper says that they already have proposals out for video projects, spanning documentary, unscripted and other genres.
“I hope that the move into video will happen not far after Labor Day,” Skipper said. “I am learning one thing in this business, which is that there is some level of lead time. … We are an impatient bunch, but these things take time to get through companies and have layers of approval. We want to be a supplier across all genres.”
Meadowlark Media launched around Le Batard’s popular radio show and podcasts, with the company ultimately securing distribution for them with DraftKings. It raised $12.6 million in Series A funding in April, with DAZN, DraftKings and former Sony Pictures chief Michael Lynton among the investors.
Its first original project was another podcast, one based around Hank Azaria’s fictional sportscaster Jim Brockmire (as featured in the IFC series of the same name). The podcast saw Azaria’s Brockmire interviewing real-life celebrities like Ben Stiller and Joe Buck.
The company has also enlisted a number of advisers from the world of media and entertainment, including writer-producer Michael Schur (Parks & Recreation, The Good Place), and former ESPN host Jemele Hill.
And while the media industry at large is undergoing a fresh round of consolidation as everyone seeks to take on Netflix, Skipper says Meadowlark is content to focus, on well, content, taking the arms dealer approached favored by Sony and other studios.
“We decided not to create a platform where we would need to drive subscribers or drive advertising, or a platform that would require us to post things daily or on a regular schedule,” Skipper said. “Right now there are so many platforms of all sizes trying to adapt to this new world, and they all need content, so I think the sweet spot is to make content for other people.”