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Here’s How Apollo Makes its Verizon Media Acquisition Worthwhile

Despite Verizon Media (AOL, Yahoo!, TechCrunch, etc.) properties having questionable success under Verizon’s banner, there’s a chance that a new start could be exactly what’s needed to fully realize the value of these properties. Private equity firm Apollo clearly believes the assets are worth something ($5 billion is still a great deal of money), but Verizon Media’s various parts living up to that dollar amount requires some rethinking.

Data from Tubular Labs shows that among U.S. audiences across Facebook and YouTube, Verizon Media assets were under-leveraged from a video content perspective, with 50.9 million minutes watched in March (329th among properties in March 2021). Especially given the continued popularity of Yahoo’s fantasy sports properties, sports would seem an area that Apollo can lean into to immediately grow the value of its new Verizon Media holdings.

With sports betting growing across the country as more states legalize sportsbooks, Yahoo’s in a unique place to capitalize — yet hasn’t yet compared to market leaders like FanDuel and DraftKings. Yahoo’s fantasy sports pre-dates these players, and they already have an active daily fantasy sports community. Yet, it’s barely advertised and content isn’t necessarily produced around it.

“There’s a big opportunity right now in the sports media space for platforms that can weave live game rights, sports betting, fantasy and other related elements into a seamless user experience,” said John Ganschow, CEO, StreamLayer. “Yahoo Sports gives Apollo a great asset around which to build and execute this strategy.”

The sports betting opportunity could be worth as much as $7/$8 billion in revenue by 2025, according to Morgan Stanley. We’ll see how much of that pie Yahoo can grab. But it appears there were at least 7 million Yahoo fantasy football users alone in 2019, and Yahoo’s overall fantasy football footprint is what’s keeping it afloat right now — along with what’s left of its email users.

By leaning into what Yahoo does well on the fantasy side and further leaning into sportsbook aspects around sports licenses and live gaming, Apollo can help that brand more than just “survive.” A greater investment in fantasy and mobile capabilities around live sports and fantasy allows Yahoo to thrive, making Apollo’s acquisition a lot more valuable in the immediate term and in the future as well.

While there are a lot of irons in the fire on sports betting right now, media’s just figuring out what it wants to do to fully activate around it. ESPN’s been exploring the idea for the last year or so, and aired an alternative NBA “BetCast” in April to cater content directly to bettors. That probably won’t be the last time they go that route, as viewers (especially younger viewers) are looking for alternative views to traditional sports.

Yahoo’s fantasy capabilities put them in a unique position here as well. They’ve broadcast NFL games in the past, and have the ability to cover leagues as both a media partner and sports betting vendor. Interactivity and mobility (sports betting and otherwise) is going to be a big part of the evolution of how people watch live events. Apollo’s ability to lean into this positioning — and quickly — could be a big part of what makes or breaks this buy.