A sports media company co-founded by NFL star quarterback Tom Brady, sports broadcaster and NFL Hall of Famer Michael Strahan, and filmmaker Gotham Chopra announced it had raised $10 million in venture capital funding this week, which it plans to use to expand its online programming.   

Religion of Sports was founded in 2016 as a multimedia sports network with a focus on telling human stories across different platforms. The documentary series Tom vs. Time, featuring Brady during his 18th and final season for the New England Patriots, was its first hit. Since then, it's produced several projects featuring big names in sports such as snowboarder Shaun White and basketball star Stephen Curry.

"What we've tried to do is think across mediums — podcasts, video, short-form, long-form — and do so with a very unique point of view," CEO Ameeth Sankaran told Cheddar. "Everything that we produce answers the central question of 'why sports matter.'"

The model relies on partnerships with other companies and platforms such as Netflix, Showtime, Apple TV+, and Amazon. 

Sankaran noted that ESPN's popular 30 for 30 documentary series set the benchmark for the business, which has seen a boom in recent years with blockbuster sports documentaries such as The Last Dance, in partnership with Netflix, on the NBA great Michael Jordan. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, Religion of Sports has compensated for the lack of professional sports with more audio content and graphics-based video content. 

"It's like any other industry, it forces us to be creative," Sankaran said. 

It also helps, he added, that the public exposure to athletes' private worlds has become the norm, creating a demand for deeper dives into their lives and careers.

"What didn't exist 15 years ago is access to these athletes through social media and other places," Sankaran said. "For us, it creates the opportunity to show more." 

The funding will support a new slate of programming and expansion into new mediums, according to the CEO. 

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