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Sports Media a ‘Bastion of Hope’ Amid Industry Gloom: Star Dealmaker Bourkoff

By Belal Awad · July 29, 2023

In brief…

  • Star media dealmaker Aryeh Bourkoff is optimistic about the future of sports media.
  • Sports is a "bastion of hope" and a thriving sector within the creative industries, he said.
  • Bourkoff sees new business models and opportunities emerging in sports, citing the growing popularity of individual sports players.
  • Bourkoff stressed the importance of new content and audiences, the popularity of new sports like pickleball, and the increasing parity in women's sports.
Top dealmaker Aryeh Bourkoff says sports media is a bright spot in uncertain media sector.  Michael Priest/Wikimedia Commons

Aryeh Bourkoff, called “media’s hottest dealmaker” by the Hollywood Reporter, is optimistic about the future of the sports business.

Known for leading high-profile deals such as WarnerMedia’s merger with Discovery and Amazon’s purchase of MGM, Bourkoff believes sports media is on a roll: “Sports is event-driven content,” Bourkoff told CNBC, calling sports a “bastion of hope” and a thriving sector within the creative industries. Sports’ transactional nature, combined with the individual branding of players, has opened up new business models and opportunities, says Bourkoff, pointing to the emergence of soccer phenom Kylian MbappĂ©, the popularity of new generation of tennis stars, and the growth of women’s sports. Bourkoff, founder and CEO of investment banking firm LionTree, believes all these factors contribute to the powerful tailwinds propelling the sports sector.

Bourkoff also spotlighted the emergence of new content and audiences, citing the rise in popularity of new sports like pickleball and the increasing parity of women’s sports within the sports marketplace.

“The key thing is having new content emerging that is getting a new audience,” said Bourkoff, “whether it’s pickleball that we’re talking about today, or women’s sports rights… Not just women’s soccer, but also the WNBA and monetizing it at different levels … It’s really just more of an aligned ecosystem now because we’re coming out of a period where there’s been hyper fragmentation and people have to start working together again.”

The son of noted filmmaker Vivienne Roumani-Denn, Bourkoff told CNBC earlier this year that the future of television is “more about self-bundling content and other offerings to generate platform and brand loyalty from the consumer. What I think you will also see is the eventual release of exclusive premium content to multiple platforms to better monetize the best content, but the most successful platform relationships will be self-bundled.”

He added that the value of long-term, aligned strategies is paramount.