×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

WME/IMG Buys Professional Bull Riders, Expanding Live Events Reach

WME/IMG’s expansion into the world of sports continued Wednesday with the announcement that the agency had bought Professional Bull Riders, the rodeo-style event that bills itself as “the fastest-growing sport in America.”

A source close to the deal said the Beverly Hills-based percentery paid about $100 million for ownership of the bull-riding circuit, extending its reach into the live-events space.

PBR stages more than 300 events globally a year, with attendance of more than 3 million people. The sport’s reach via television and the Web — aided by a long-term contract with CBS — extends to more than 550 million households in more than 40 countries.

WME had already made a major move into the sports field last year with its merger with athletics giant IMG. A joint statement from WME/IMG co-CEOs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell said: “We’ve worked closely with the PBR for the last several years and share their passion for expanding the sport of bull riding globally. The resources across WME/IMG make the partnership a perfect match, combining top quality event production and broadcast rights.”

The Pueblo, Colorado-based organization is run by chief executive Jim Haworth, who said Wednesday he was “thrilled” to join WME/IMG.

“The acquisition will allow our organization to continue its expansion worldwide, and bring our top-quality events to the masses,” Haworth said.

Haworth noted that the organization’s fans follow the bulls sometimes more closely than the riders. He noted that in ESPN the Magazine’s “body” feature last year that a bull named Bushwacker was touted as possessing “the Baddest Body in Sports.”

Last October, about 5,000 people turned out at Huntington Beach, Calif., for an event in which PBR brought its “bull athletes” to the beach. The event drew considerable television viewership, as well, thanks in part to an NFL game lead-in, Haworth said.

The tour was founded in 1992 by 20 riders, breaking away from the traditional rodeo circuit. The organization now holds several tours, including the elite PBR Built Ford Tough Series, the BlueDEF Velocity Tour, the Touring Pro Division, and circuits in Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico.

Haworth noted that the Professional Bull Riders are not entirely newcomers to Hollywood. Organization members served as advisers on the recently released Scott Eastwood starrer “The Longest Ride.”

WME/IMG is purchasing the PBR from controlling shareholder Spire Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm and from other shareholders.

The Raine Group and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison served as WME/IMG’s financial and legal advisers, respectively. PBR was advised by financial advisers Evercore and legal advisers Dentons.

More Biz

  • China Video Streaming Giant iQIYI Loses

    Chinese Video Giant iQIYI Loses $1.3 Billion in 2018

    Chinese video streaming firm iQIYI lost over $1.3 billion in 2018, as revenues and subscriber numbers ballooned. The deepening losses reflected ever higher spending on original content production. Announcing its first full-year financials since a March IPO that launched it onto the NASDAQ, iQIYI said that it lost $1.3 billion (RMB9.1 billion) last compared with [...]

  • Lisa Borders Time's Up

    Time's Up CEO Resigned After Son Was Accused of Sexual Assault

    Time’s Up has announced in a statement posted to Instagram that its former president and CEO Lisa Borders, who resigned Feb. 18, did so after her son was accused of sexual assault in a “private forum.” “Within 24 hours, Lisa made the decision to resign as President and CEO of Time’s Up and we agreed [...]

  • Louis Tomlinson Signs With Arista (EXCLUSIVE)

    Louis Tomlinson Signs With Arista (EXCLUSIVE)

    One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson has signed with Arista, sources tell Variety. While the singer was formerly linked with Epic Records in 2017, he is signed directly to Simon Cowell’s Syco label and will move within the Sony Music family to Arista. Tomlinson teased a new single on Feb. 2, posting on Twitter, “Just heard the [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett's Bail Set at $100,000, Must Surrender Passport

    UPDATED: A Chicago judge set a $100,000 bond for Jussie Smollett on Thursday, as the “Empire” actor made his first court appearance. Smollett faces one felony count of filing a false police report. Police allege that Smollett staged a Jan. 29 attack, telling detectives that he was accosted by two men who used racial and [...]

  • Michael Jackson Estate Accuses HBO of

    Michael Jackson Estate Sues HBO for Non-Disparagement Contract Breach

    The estate of Michael Jackson sued HBO on Thursday, accusing the cable channel of violating a non-disparagement clause by agreeing to run “Leaving Neverland,” a documentary accusing Jackson of sexual abuse. The suit seeks to compel HBO to litigate the matter in a public arbitration process, and claims that the estate could be awarded $100 [...]

  • Allison Kaye

    Scooter Braun Names Allison Kaye Partner at Ithaca Holdings (EXCLUSIVE)

    On the back of a history-making debut by Ariana Grande, who claims the top three songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this week (tying the Beatles), Scooter Braun has appointed his longtime deputy Allison Kaye to partner at Ithaca Holdings LLC, which houses SB Projects. She was previously president of music at the 12-year-old [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content