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WME-IMG takes grip of Professional Bull Riders

The WME-IMG agency has furthered its presence in the live event productions market by agreeing to acquire Professional Bull Riders (PBR), the world’s premier bull riding circuit.

With more than 300 bull riding events globally each year, attended by over three million people, the PBR touts itself as the fastest growing sport in the United States. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but WME-IMG is reportedly paying around $100m (€90.1m) for ownership of PBR.

The agency is purchasing PBR from the organisation’s controlling shareholder, private equity firm Spire Capital Partners, as well as other shareholders. The transaction comes on the heels of other recent acquisitions by the global sports and entertainment company, joining recently announced additions Global eSports Management, Dixon Talent and Icon Sports Management. It will also further WME-IMG’s footprint in owned and operated properties, which include Formula Drift Racing, tennis events the Miami Open and Rio Open, and the U.S. Open of Surfing.

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.”

Bull riders from all over the globe compete on the elite PBR Built Ford Tough Series, the BlueDEF Velocity Tour, the Touring Pro Division, and the PBR international circuits in Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico. The PBR was founded in 1992 by a group of 20 bull riders who sought mainstream attention for the sport.

PBR chairman and chief executive Jim Haworth said: “The acquisition will allow our organisation to continue its expansion worldwide, and bring our top-quality events to the masses. I look forward to broadening our reach and continuing as America’s fastest growing sport.”

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including antitrust regulatory approval, and is expected to close next month.