Chris Russo on SPACs, gambling & the impact on sports media publishing

To say Chris Russo knows sports media publishing would be an understatement.

Currently, he’s the CEO of Fifth Generation Sports, a boutique advisory firm focused on sports, technology and digital media. Before that, Chris broke new ground as head of digital media for the NFL in that discipline’s earliest days (1999-2006). He also built and sold an independent sports media publisher (Big Lead/Fantasy Sports Ventures). And, most recently, Chris led private equity firm Houlihan Lokey’s sports mergers and acquisitions practice (which included advising on the sale of Sports Illustrated).

Like many of our 2021 Brand Story, Inc. guests, Chris’ strongest suit is his vision. When I first met him, over 5 years ago, his advice to me for TeamWorks Media was simple: add a sports gambling media publishing component to the portfolio.


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The changing game of sports media

With the recent explosion of SPACs, in particular in the sports media marketplace, I couldn’t think of a better resource to break down what an SPAC is. Why are they so popular all of a sudden and how should media publishers and content studios be thinking about them? Chris also digs into sports gambling and media publishing among other here and now trends.

Here are some of the headlines from our conversation:

  • WTF’s a SPAC and why you should care if you’re in the content business?
  • What does this mean for the investment community?
  • What takeaways does Chris have about the influx of money pouring into the sports media content marketplace?
  • As an expert in media publishing company valuations, what are the areas commanding the most premiums within businesses’ enterprise values?
  • With state gambling prohibitions toppling like dominos, we’ve seen sports media and gambling company partnerships abound – Barstool Sports & Penn National, Sinclair & Bally’s, NBC and PointsBet. What does this mean for sports media and content creation in 2021 and beyond?
  • Where are the hidden business opportunities are lingering around this nascent marketplace?
  • What excites Chris about digital media properties and upcoming market shifts and trends?
  • What inning are we in for the podcast marketplace explosion?
  • Chris shares his favorite COVID case studies of content innovation, as well as his “Morning Musts” and his favorite fun read.

I hope you take away as much from this conversation as I did. It’s a wild world out there, and I’m happy to know someone like Chris Russo who can help me make sense of it.


We want to hear from you. Share this podcast, give us your feedback and hit me up with topic suggestions and guest ideas. Brand Story, Inc. is for you, so let’s make it great together. You can ping me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter @_JaySharman. Thanks for listening. Enjoy!

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