Skydance Media is branching into sports, and has tapped veteran producer Jon Weinbach to lead the effort.
Weinbach, a former EVP at Mandalay Sports Media and Tollin Productions whose credits include The Last Dance and Kareem: Minority of One, will be president of Skydance Sports. He will report to Skydance president and COO Jesse Sisgold. The new unit will develop scripted and unscripted sports-related content. In addition to working with creators and producers, Skydance Sports will also look for opportunities for leagues and sports entities interested in finding partners for programming.
“Jon possesses an unmatched critical and creative sensibility about the world of sports and happens to be someone who cares deeply about the athletes, teams and leagues,” company founder and CEO David Ellison said.
Sisgold saluted Weinbach’s “remarkable track record for producing sports stories that capture the hearts of global audiences.” The new hire, he added, “holds the perfect mix of leadership, experience and deep relationships to help us build Skydance Sports into a premium destination.”
Weinbach called his new role “a dream opportunity to create a global, independent sports studio.”
Skydance has been in an active mode of late, backing film projects like The Tomorrow War for Amazon Prime Video and The Old Guard for Netflix as well as sci-fi series Foundation for Apple TV+. Founded in 2010 with a focus on feature film, it has gone on to add divisions dedicated to television, interactive content, animation and new media.
Don Granger, head of Skydance Films, has scripted sports-centric projects on his development roster, which he will continue to spearhead after the formation of the sports division. Chief Creative Officer Dana Goldberg and television chief Bill Bost will also team with Weinbach on all future sports related scripted content. Dan Marks, an Emmy-winning filmmaker and editor who has worked on premium series such as HBO’s Real Sports and 24/7, will oversee production for Skydance Sports as senior VP.
Another asset for Skydance Sports is RedBird Capital, an investor in Skydance with stakes in several other major sports properties. It has invested in Fenway Sports Group, the YES Network, the XFL, OneTeam Partners, Wasserman, Toulouse Football Club and the Rajasthan Royals, an Indian Premier League cricket franchise. Earlier this month, it also became a minority investor in LeBron James’ The SpringHill Company.
In a nine-year run at Mandalay, Weinberg produced and developed programming carried by Netflix, ESPN, HBO, CBS, Turner Sports, Showtime, Fox Sports, FIFA and Vice Media. He co-produced doc series The Last Dance, a 2020 close-up look at Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls which aired on ESPN and streamed on Netflix. He also was exec producer of The Comedy Store, a five-episode documentary series for Showtime about the LA comedy club. Weinbach’s producing and directing credits also include two ESPN 30 for 30 feature documentaries, Straight Outta LA and Sole Man, as well as Sundance Film Festival selection The Other Dream Team.