NAMG CEO James Heckman
Scout.com will go back under the direction of some of the leaders that founded the company more than a decade ago, along with executives and engineers from the likes of Google, Yahoo, AOL, MSN, FOX, NFL and Rivals.com.
NAMG (North American Membership Group) CEO James Heckman announced the acquisition of Scout.com from Fox Networks Group. Following the acquisition, both companies will merge to create a new digital media network focused primarily on male enthusiasts, which will operate as Scout Media, Inc. (Scout).
Owned by New York-based private equity fund Pilot Group, the combined properties will deliver hundreds of content offerings, including NFL, college football, basketball, baseball, outdoor enthusiast sports such as hunting and fishing, as well as other enthusiast-based channels.
Initially founded by Heckman in 2001 and purchased by Fox in 2005, Scout Media (Scout.com) operates over 300 sports web properties. NAMG, owned by Pilot Group, consists mostly of male targeted enthusiast media and commerce properties – such as North American Hunter, North American Fisherman, and Golf Partners – as well as partnerships with Major League Baseball and The History Channel. The combined networks will launch with already existing cable television shows, dozens of national enthusiast brands, over 300 web destinations, and tens of thousands of professionally produced videos. Tens of millions in subscription and advertising revenue and an 18 million-deep customer list already exist in its highly engaged online niche communities which already produce over $100 million in revenue.
“Integration execution is always the key issue when it comes to mergers, but in this specific case, the business model, audience and product requirements are essentially the same,” said Heckman. “We also have the luxury of deploying the same leadership team that pioneered the vision of niche content and communities operating on a single platform. We will be doing it again, underneath an already existing, nine-figure business, world-class backing and a highly engaged audience, has us feeling confident about our chances for success.”
Scout and NAMG models are both subscription-enhanced and NAMG brings a robust commerce business, as well as a New York-based ad sales team. Scout’s Seattle-based, digital infrastructure will operate both networks, while NAMG and Scout’s individual niche channels will continue their current branding within the Scout network brand.
Heckman was hired Oct. 1, 2013, and has already brought on a team of experienced executives and engineers from the likes of Google, Yahoo, AOL, MSN, FOX, NFL and Rivals.com – all with previous operational ties to Heckman and Pilot Group’s founder Bob Pittman.
Heckman most recently ran global media Strategy at Yahoo, where he led the patent resolution and content partnership with Facebook; architected the AOL/Yahoo/MSN advertising alliance and oversaw major strategic negotiations, such as Clear Channel, NFL, AT&T and Comcast. Prior to Yahoo, he was Founder/CEO of ad network, 5to1.com (sold to Yahoo); served as CSO for Fox Interactive, where he architected the pivotal $900MM partnership with MySpace and Google. Prior to founding Scout.com (sold to Fox), Heckman also founded Rivals.com (sold to Yahoo), and served as founder and President of NFL Exclusive (NFL JV).
Pilot Group is based in New York and was launched in 2003 by Bob Pittman, Mayo Stuntz and others with deep media experience. Pilot and its members have controlling investments in Thrillist, NAMG, Tasting Table, Tequila Casa Dragones, and also have stakes in companies including Next New Networks, Rapleaf and TrialPay. Pilot Group is currently selling its Barrington Broadcasting investment, and previously sold investments that include Zynga, Stereogum, David’s Bridal and IdealBite. In August 2008, Pilot Group sold DailyCandy, its initial investment, to Comcast for a reported $125 million, and in January 2010 International market-research firm Ipsos acquired OTX Research from Pilot.
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