Providence Equity, NFL, Kick off $300M Partnership

Private equity firm Providence Equity Partners and the National Football League are teaming up to tackle entertainment media investments.

While a PE firm might seem like a strange bedfellow for an enterprise like the NFL, Providence Equity Partners is an investment firm with a successful track record investing in digital and traditional media alike.

A source familiar with the partnership said the PE firm and football league will initially have $300 million to invest, and said deals would be growth investments—unlikely to use leverage—in the $25 million to $50 million range.

Providence Equity is investing in the NFL partnership vehicle from its Fund VI, one source told peHUB.

Providence Equity, peHUB previously reported, has had difficulty raising a new, seventh fund. However, the PE firm has also made a number of exits over the last 12 months.

In 2012, major media exits for Providence included its sale of a stake in online streaming entertainment company Hulu, where it bagged a 2.0x multiple on a $100 million investment and, later in the year, the sale of a substantial portion of the YES Network to News Corp. The latter earned a return multiple of 4.5x for Providence and co-investor Goldman Sachs, a source said.

The PE firm still has other investments that could help the NFL boost its audience, according to its site, like Spanish-language Univision Communications. However, it isn’t just digital deals and cable multiples that have helped pad out Providence’s resume. The PE firm has made a number of sports media investments: it has backed New York-based MLS Media, a soccer marketing company, as well as Florida-based World Triathlon Corp., founder of the Ironman competition.

The private equity firm also reportedly made another big exit in 2012—selling a stake of itself to a state pension system and a sovereign wealth fund, according to a Bloomberg report.

peHUB reached out to the league and to the private equity firm for comment, and will update this post if they respond.

Image Credit: NFL