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OVG in $40m arena partnership deal with Walmart

Walmart, the world's second-largest retailer, has taken its "first step" into the live entertainment world in partnership with Tim Leiweke's Oak View Group

By Jon Chapple on 31 Mar 2017

Tim Leiweke, Oak View Group (OVG)

OVG chief executive Tim Leiweke

image © Oak View Group

Oak View Group (OVG), the venue development and investment vehicle launched in November 2015 by former Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff and ex-AEG CEO Tim Leiweke, has entered into a commercial partnership with Walmart.

Walmart – the world’s second-largest retailer, after first-placed Alibaba, which has its own ambitious plans in the live entertainment space – becomes OVG’s “official big-box retailer” in a deal valued at US$40 million over three years.

The agreement will give Walmart a significant marketing presence at 21 US arenas, reaching 70m people a year, says OVG’s Dan Griffis. All are part of the Arena Alliance, the 22-venue membership organisation established by OVG last September.

“This is the first step for Walmart into this space,” Griffis, head of OVG’s Narrative Partners sales agency, tells SportsBusiness Journal. “They liked the national platform with buildings in the top 25 [markets]. There is one contract and it provides economies of scale.”

“This is the first step for Walmart into this space”

According to SBJ’s Don Muret, Walmart’s brand ‘activation’ will centre on the Walmart Community Playmakers programme, in which residents local to each arena will be celebrated for charitable efforts, including education, sustainability and poverty alleviation. will be celebrated for their work in education, fighting hunger and sustainability, among other efforts.

Muret says while “details are still being worked out” in most cases Walmart will allowed to use arenas’ branding in its stores.

OVG, which describes itself as “a positive disruption to business as usual in the sports and live entertainment industry” comprises five divisions: Arena Alliance; Griffis’s Narrative Partners, a sponsorship/partnership operation; Prevent Advisors, its security advisory arm; OVG Consulting, whose services include venue design and seating, branding and ticketing strategy; and the OVG Ventures venture-capital fund.

It is also expanding into trade media, acquiring Venues Today – now headed up by Billboard’s Ray Waddell – last December and reportedly eyeing a takeover of Pollstar.


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