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

  • Johnny Depp

    Johnny Depp Faces Trial Next Week Over Location Manager's Assault Suit

    Johnny Depp is expected to appear in a Los Angeles courtroom next week for a trial on a lawsuit alleging that he punched a location manager during the 2017 shoot for “City of Lies.” Gregg “Rocky” Brooks alleges that Depp hit him twice in the side after Brooks advised him that the production would have [...]

  • Stranger Things Season 3

    Netflix Undershoots U.S. Subscriber Adds for Q3, Beats Profit Forecast

    Netflix fell slightly short of its U.S. subscriber forecast in the third quarter — and projected lower Q4 subscriber growth than Wall Street was expecting as competition looms from Apple and Disney. Still, the company reported solid gains, announcing a Q3 record for paid subscriber additions and revenue, and handily topped analyst forecasts for profit. [...]

  • Despacito Luis Fonsi Daddy Yankee

    'Despacito' Tops Vevo's Most-Watched Videos of the Past Decade Chart

    In celebration of its 10-year anniversary, Vevo today announced its Top 10 lists of the decade’s most-watched music videos. Not surprisingly, the Most-Watched Music Video accolade goes to Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” (featuring Daddy Yankee), with 6.4 billion views since its release in early 2017. The second most-viewed video is Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” (featuring Bruno [...]

  • MoviePass card

    MoviePass Accused of Contract Breach by Oasis Ventures

    Oasis Ventures Entertainment, a Dubai-based investment fund, sued MoviePass on Monday, alleging that the loyalty-card company stole film titles to create its film unit. Oasis has had a joint venture with action movie producers Randall Emmett and George Furla since 2013. In 2018, Emmett Furla Oasis went into business with Helios and Matheson Analytics, the [...]

  • The Laundromat Netflix

    'Panama Papers' Attorneys Sue Netflix to Block Release of 'The Laundromat'

    The lawyers at the heart of the “Panama Papers” scandal have filed a federal suit seeking to block Netflix from releasing “The Laundromat,” the Steven Soderbergh film that stars Meryl Streep. Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca, the principals of Mossack Fonseca, allege that the film defames them and uses their firm’s logo without authorization. In [...]

  • Reese Witherspoon Kerry Washington Ryan Reynolds

    Market for Package Deals and Original Ideas Heats Up Ahead of Platform Launches

    Practically every studio in town wanted it, but in the end it was Apple that swept in to nab the reinterpretation of “A Christmas Carol” with Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds. To buy the highly coveted package, the tech giant was willing to shell out more than $60 million to the stars and the film’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content