Beats Co-Founder Jimmy Iovine Joins Investors Backing Fighters League

(Bloomberg) -- The Professional Fighters League, a mixed martial arts series, said it raised $30 million from a group of investors that includes Beats Electronics billionaire co-founder Jimmy Iovine.

The league, backed in previous financing rounds by investors such as Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and actor Kevin Hart, is raising more money in the so-called Series C funding to enhance its data and analytics as it expands its global audience and secures more fighters.

Beats Co-Founder Jimmy Iovine Joins Investors Backing Fighters League

Other investors in the latest round of fundraising include:

  • Ted Segal, whose family founded LS Power
  • Mark Leschly, managing partner at Iconica Ventures
  • SWaN Ventures
  • Elysian Park Ventures

Leonsis, a former AOL executive, also invested in the latest round after previously taking part in the league’s earlier Series B funding alongside Hart, Riot Games co-founder Brandon Beck and reality TV producer Mark Burnett. Investors in earlier rounds include Ventas Inc. Chief Executive Officer Debra Cafaro, part owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Leonsis has said niche sports leagues and teams are excellent testing grounds for innovation. The PFL, for instance, will push data and analytics to enhance the broadcast and second-screen experiences, including the speed of punches and the force with which a fighter hits the mat.

The so-called second screen experience has become pivotal to sports leagues seeking to capture a younger audience that’s increasingly incorporating mobile phones, laptops and tablets into their viewing experience.

The PFL has a multiyear distribution deal that will see every event air across ESPN2, ESPN+ and Deportes in the U.S. In all, the league says it will reach fans in more than 130 countries. The PFL also signed multiyear sponsorship deals with Anheuser-Busch InBev SA and the Air Force Reserve.

Unlike mixed martial arts powerhouse UFC, which pits its fighters in one-off bouts, the PFL has a more traditional league-style format, with a regular season, followed by a single-elimination playoff and season-ending championship.

The PFL opens its season May 9.

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