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Endeavor appoints new WME co-chairs

Endeavor has named Richard Weitz and Christian Muirhead as co-chairmen of WME.

Weitz, who represents an array of musicians, actors, comedians, writers, producers and directors, joined the agency in 1997 and was promoted to partner in 2002 when he was also named head of its television packaging department. Prior to Endeavor, Weitz served stints at InterTalent Agency and ICM.

“WME is home to me, and I’m thrilled to carry on its century-long history and help set the course for its next 100 years,” says Weitz. “I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the most talented artists, agents, and industry executives for over 25 years. I’m humbled to have this incredible opportunity to expand on those relationships and introduce new ones, while working with Ari Greenburg, Dan Limerick, and the entire management team to create further value for our clients.”

Muirhead, meanwhile, has been with the company for 18 years and has served as Endeavor’s chief communications officer (CCO) since 2014. He first joined the then William Morris Agency in 2004 and became its communications lead in 2008.

Following its merger with the Endeavor talent agency in 2009, Muirhead became WME’s head of communications and was later named a partner. He previously worked in international publicity at Warner Bros. Pictures.

“The appointment of Richard and Christian marks a truly transformative day for WME”

“Having started my journey at WME, I’ve had a front row seat to the evolution of the entertainment business and the growing influence of talent in shaping it,” says Muirhead. “I look forward to leveraging the full scale and depth of Endeavor’s network on our clients’ behalf, forging connections and creating opportunities to help them build industry-leading brands and businesses.”

WME’s music roster includes acts such as Adele, Foo Fighters, The Killers, Stormzy, Olivia Rodrigo and Bruno Mars.

“The appointment of Richard and Christian marks a truly transformative day for WME, which continues to be the inspirational core of Endeavor,” says the company’s president Mark Shapiro. “I’ve seen first-hand their innate ability to lead, to build meaningful relationships, and to leverage the broader Endeavor network in service to our clients’ aspirations. Coupled with their deep understanding of the entertainment landscape, I can say with certainty that there are no better or more complementary individuals to now lead the agency.”

The duo succeed chair Lloyd Braun, who plans to step down at the end of 2022.

“I would like to thank Lloyd for his leadership over these past three years, navigating WME through the pandemic and setting the agency on course for its best financial year on record,” adds Shapiro. “Lloyd has left an indelible mark on WME and laid a strong foundation for the future.”

WME recently elevated Lucy Dickins to the position of global head of contemporary music and touring.

Endeavor reported continued growth across its portfolio in the second quarter of 2022, prompting the company to increase its full-year forecast for adjusted EBITDA. Endeavor, which also owns sports agency IMG and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), among other properties, generated revenue of US$1.313 billion for the quarterly period ending 30 June, 2022.

 


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WME parent boosted in Q2 by return of live events

WME parent Endeavor has reported continued growth across its portfolio in the second quarter of 2022, prompting the company to increase its full-year forecast for adjusted EBITDA.

Endeavor, which also owns sports agency IMG and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), among other properties, generated revenue of US$1.313 billion for the quarterly period ended 30 June, 2022.

Net income came to $42.2m while adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) totalled $306.4m.

The agency’s representation business (comprising WME, sports agency IMG and Endeavor Content) generated revenue of $358m for the quarter, up $29.7m or 9% compared to the second quarter of 2021.

The segment’s adjusted EBITDA was $111.2m for the quarter, up $49.5m or 80% year over year.

According to the company, the growth was primarily driven by the continued strong demand for talent, including the recovery of music and comedy touring, as well as increased corporate client spending.

WME artists include Drake, Justin Timberlake, Adele, Bruno Mars, Pearl Jam, Kendrick Lamar, the Killers, Bjork, Frank Ocean, Foo Fighters, St Vincent, Shakira and more.

Elsewhere, the Events, Experiences & Rights segment revenue was $627.9m for the quarter, up $99.2m or 19% compared to the second quarter of 2021.

“We benefited from strong growth globally across our segments in the second quarter”

Increases were primarily driven by the return of full-capacity live events including music festivals, the Masters, and the NCAA Final Four, as well as the inclusion of the Madrid Open and NCSA acquisitions.

The segment’s adjusted EBITDA was $108.1 million for the quarter, up $71.3m or 194% year over year.

Owned Sports Properties segment revenue was $331.9m for the quarter, up $73.1m or 28% compared to the second quarter of 2021.

Growth was primarily driven by an increase in media rights fees and live event, partnership, consumer product and licensing revenues at UFC, as well as higher revenues at PBR (Professional Bull Riders), and the inclusion of Diamond Baseball Holdings.

The segment’s adjusted EBITDA was $161.3m for the quarter, up $29.0m or 22% year over year.

The upswing in each segment has prompted Endeavor to slightly adjust its full-year forecast for adjusted EBITDA to a range of $1.13bn to $1.17bn, which is up from the estimate of $1.1bn to $1.15bn offered in May with Q1 results.

Revenue for 2022 is expected to be between $5.235bn and $5.475bn, as estimated in the Q1 results.

“We benefited from strong growth globally across our segments in the second quarter,” said Ariel Emanuel, CEO, Endeavor.

“While we recognise there are broader macroeconomic forces at play, given the quarter’s performance and our line of sight through the end of the year, we’ve once again raised our Adjusted EBITDA guidance. We remain focused on our long-term strategy – leveraging the diversity and scale of our businesses to drive maximum value for our shareholders, our clients and our owned IP.”

 


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Endeavor Q1 revenue boosted by demand for events

WME parent company Endeavor has reported significant growth in the first quarter of 2022, driven by the resumption of concert touring and demand for live events.

Endeavor, which also owns sports agency IMG and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), among other properties, generated revenue of US$1.474 billion for the first fiscal quarter of 2022.

Net revenue came to $517.7m, while EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) totalled $314.4m.

The agency’s representation business (comprising WME, sports agency IMG and Endeavor Content) generated revenue of $357.3m for the quarter, up $108.4m or 44% compared to the first quarter of 2021.

The segment’s adjusted EBITDA was $101.7m for the quarter, up $40.2m or 65%, year on year.

According to the company, the growth was primarily driven by increased brand spending, as well as higher commissions resulting from continued strong demand for Endeavor’s talent, and the recovery of live entertainment, primarily music and comedy touring.

WME artists include Drake, Justin Timberlake, Adele, Bruno Mars, Pearl Jam, Kendrick Lamar, the Killers, Bjork, Frank Ocean, Foo Fighters, St Vincent, Shakira and more.

“Our growth in the first quarter was driven by our ability to respond to the high demand for premium content and live events”

Elsewhere, the Events, Experiences & Rights segment revenue was $825.8m for the quarter, up $286.2m or 53% compared to the first quarter of 2021.

Increases were primarily driven by the return of more full-capacity live events in the quarter compared to the first quarter of 2021, including Super Bowl LVI, the Miami Open, the NCAA Final Four and Frieze LA, as well as $38m in revenue from the acquisition of NCSA, which closed in Q2 2021.

The segment’s adjusted EBITDA was $132.5m for the quarter, up $93.4m or 239%, year on year.

Owned Sports Properties segment revenue was $296.7m for the quarter, up $13.2m or 5% compared to the first quarter of 2021 – primarily driven by greater sponsorship, licensing, commercial PPV and event-related revenue for UFC among other factors. The segment’s adjusted EBITDA was $148.7m for the quarter, up $3.2m or 2% year on year.

“Our growth in the first quarter was driven by our ability to respond to the high demand for premium content and live events,” said Ariel Emanuel, CEO, Endeavor. “We feel great about where we sit relative to the secular tailwinds across all of our businesses, and we’ve raised our guidance for the fourth quarter in a row to reflect our positive outlook for the balance of the year.”

For 2022, Endeavor is projecting revenue between $5.235bn and $5.475bn, as well as adjusted EBITDA between $1.1bn and $1.15bn.

Last year, the company generated $5.1bn in revenue but posted a net loss of $467.5m.

 


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Endeavor shares first annual financials since IPO

WME parent company Endeavor has shared financial results for the fourth quarter, and fiscal year, of 2021 – the company’s first since going public in April 2021.

Endeavor, which also owns sports agency IMG and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), among other properties, generated revenue of US$1.5 billion for the fourth fiscal quarter of 2021 and a net loss of $16.7m.

For the full year, Endeavor generated $5.1bn in revenue but posted a net loss of $467.5m.

“In our first year as a public company, we saw significant outperformance across our portfolio as the world began to emerge from the pandemic, with increased attendance at live events and continued heightened demand for premium content,” said Ariel Emanuel, CEO, Endeavor.

“Given the unique position we occupy in the content landscape, we remain confident about our ability to continue leveraging trends, unlocking growth, and delivering long-term value.”

“In our first year as a public company, we saw significant outperformance across our portfolio as the world began to emerge from the pandemic”

The agency’s representation business (comprising WME, IMG and Endeavor Content) proved to be a bright spot for Endeavor’s financials, reporting revenue of $717.9m for the quarter, up $443.2m, or 161%, compared to the prior-year quarter. For the full year, the business was up $2bn, up 100% from the $1bn realised by the segment in 2020.

WME artists include Drake, Justin Timberlake, Adele, Bruno Mars, Pearl Jam, Kendrick Lamar, the Killers, Bjork, Frank Ocean, Foo Fighters, St Vincent, Shakira and more.

Endeavor’s Events, Experiences & Rights segment revenue topped $156m in the quarter, up 23% year over year and $2.0bn for the year, up $437.8m, or 28%, compared to the prior year – driven by the return of live events among other things.

Meanwhile, Endeavor’s owned sports properties segment reported revenue of $277.3m for the fourth quarter, up $8.3m, or 3%, compared to the prior-year quarter. For the full year, revenue for the segment was up by 16% to $1.1bn, when measured against the prior year.

For 2022, Endeavor is projecting revenue between $5.2bn and $5.45bn.

 


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WME parent Endeavor appoints new director

Endeavor Group Holdings, the parent company of WME Entertainment, has appointed veteran technology and media executive Jackie Reses to its board of directors.

Reses is CEO of investment firm Post House Capital and previously served as executive chair of financial services company Square. Prior to joining Square in 2015, Reses was chief development officer for technology Yahoo, and also served on the board of Alibaba Group.

She started her career at Goldman Sachs and later led the US media group at private-equity firm Apax Partners for 11 years.

Reses serves on the boards of Affirm Holdings, Pershing Square Tontine Holdings, TaskUs and ContextLogic, and is also chair of the Economic Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

“I’m looking forward to partnering with Endeavor’s leadership to develop strategies that fully leverage the power of its diverse portfolio”

“We’re honoured to welcome Jackie to our board of directors,” says Ariel Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor. “Her leadership across corporate finance and enterprise technology, combined with her innate talent for driving innovation and cultivating culture, will be incredibly valuable to Endeavor as we continue charting our future as a public company.”

Reses joins a board of directors that includes Emanuel, Endeavor executive chairman Patrick Whitesell, Silver Lake co-CEO Egon Durban, Silver Lake managing director Stephan Evans, Uncle Nearest CEO Fawn Weaver, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and former Xerox Corporation and Veon chair and CEO Ursula Burns.

“It’s great to join Endeavor’s board at this pivotal time,” adds Reses. “I’m looking forward to partnering with Endeavor’s leadership to develop strategies that fully leverage the power of its diverse portfolio and help propel its continued growth across the sports and entertainment landscape.”

Endeavor increased turnover by nearly US$500 million and paid off $600m of debt in the second financial quarter of 2021.

 


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WME gears up for huge return to live

Powerhouse agency WME is expecting a boom period for the company as live entertainment resumes, with bookings well above where they were even in the pre-coronavirus era, CEO Ari Emanuel has said.

Speaking yesterday (16 August) during parent company Endeavor’s Q2 2021 earnings call, Emanuel, who took Endeavor public earlier this year, explained: “Our WME bookings for the second half of 2021 are double digits over where they were at the same point in 2019, the most recent non-Covid-impacted year.”

Endeavor CFO Jason Lublin said country music is “leading the way” for a rebound in live music in the US in the second half of 2021, with highlights including sold-out tours by Garth Brooks and Eric Church. “As Ari mentioned, we’re pacing ahead as relates to WME booking for the second half of the year, and we’re booking clients for dates much further into the future,” he added.

Endeavor increased revenue to US$1.1 billion in the second quarter of 2021 – up around $650 million on Q2 2020 – and expects adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) of $765–775m for the whole year. The company paid $600m worth of outstanding debt in Q2, reducing its total debt to $5.351bn (compared to $5.872bn in Q1 2021).

In its representation unit (comprising WME, IMG and Endeavor Content) specifically, Endeavor reported revenue of $328.2m (up from $192.8m year on year) and adjusted ebitda of $61.7m (compared to $52m in Q2 2020).

“We have experienced recovery in our business happening slightly faster than we had originally anticipated”

“We have experienced recovery in our business happening slightly faster than we had originally anticipated,” Lublin continued. “And although we continue to closely monitor the delta variant, bookings, ticket sales and other indicators remain positive for the balance of the year.”

According to Emanuel, Endeavor’s strength lies in its diversity, with the business also including sports properties including Ultimate Fighting Champtionship (UFC) and corporate hospitality businesses such as On Location Experiences.

“If you want to think about the whole picture, when you look at the other companies that trade in our space – whether it be WWE, Formula 1, Live Nation – they’re all one-trick ponies,” he told analysts. “We have multiple facets, whether it be sponsorship or sports properties, representation, On Location – there are multifaceted aspects of our business, and we have gone through the pandemic, and we’re raising EBITDA, we’re raising guidance…

“I think you guys are going to learn that we’re a multifaceted business that we get to pivot back and forth from. […] The company has multiple different aspects of our business that protect us against anything in the future.”

Endeavor’s latest quarterly report can be read in full here.

 


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Endeavor-run biz acquires dynamic ticketing firm

WME parent company Endeavor has acquired Qcue, a software developer for dynamic ticket pricing in the live events industry.

Terms of the deal, which was made through Endeavor’s experiential events firm On Location Experiences (acquired in early 2020), have not been disclosed.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Qcue’s technology, which helps rights holders optimise ticket pricing and maximise sales based on market demand, will be integrated into On Location’s suite of hospitality offerings.

On Location offers corporate clients and others fans access to marquee events like the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four and New York Fashion Week. Its overall list of 150 entities also includes artists and festivals, such as Coachella and Bonnaroo, as well as unique experiences owned by On Location.

Qcue, founded in 2007, provides sports teams and entertainment outfits with ticket pricing, analytics, data visualisation, inventory management and efficiency tools.

“[The deal will bring] top-of-the-line dynamic pricing technology and a stellar team of ticketing experts in-house”

Its clients include Major League Baseball teams, college athletic departments and Australian Football League teams. The company will continue to operate out of its headquarters in Austin after the deal has closed.

In announcing the deal, On Location estimated that Qcue has made more than 35 million price changes, generating more than $300 million in incremental revenue for its partners.

“We are thrilled to join forces with Qcue, bringing top-of-the-line dynamic pricing technology and a stellar team of ticketing experts in-house,” On Location CFO Jon Lavallee said in a press release. “Together, we will optimise On Location’s approach to ticketing and pass that benefit on to our valued partners.”

Along with On Location, Endeavor also owns the IMG sports agency and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

The company posted a small profit of US$2.4 million in the first quarter of 2021 – the firm’s first since becoming a public company in April.

 


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Endeavor profitable in first quarter of 2021

WME parent company Endeavor posted a small profit of US$2.4 million in the first quarter of 2021, its Q1 financial results – the firm’s first since becoming a public company in April – reveal.

Endeavor, which also owns the IMG sports agency and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), among other properties, increased its net income from the -$51.3m it reported for the same period last year. Revenue for Q1 2021 totalled $1.07 billion, down slightly from the $1.19bn in Q1 2020, while operating income came to $94.5m, up from $53.8m year on year.

Speaking during yesterday (2 June)’s earnings call, Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel noted that the growth was driven primarily by its ‘owned sports properties’ segment – one of three business units, along with representation (ie the agencies) and events, experiences and rights – which saw revenues rise 22%, to $283.5m. This segment comprises UFC, Professional Bull Riders (PBR) and Euroleague basketball.

Other significant Covid-era demand is coming from its events and experience business, which includes corporate hospitality firm On Location (acquired just before the pandemic), which was recently named global hospitality provider of the Olympic Games.

The representation unit (comprising WME, IMG and Endeavor Content) continues to be hit by restrictions on events, registering a 15% dip in year-on-year revenue, to $248.9m.

“Artists of all kinds are desperate to get back out and tour”

However, booking agency WME is seeing “brisk ticket sales for upcoming concerts,” explained Emanuel. “The pre-sale for the first event of On Location’s Mexico-based beach concert series, featuring WME client Dead and Company, sold out both its January 2022 weekend dates, and the next event featuring WME client Luke Bryan had its fastest sell-out in its seven year history.”

While live music hasn’t “done exactly a 180, we have high demand, coupled with favourable pricing and yield, and artists of all kinds are desperate to get back out and tour, to see, to greet their fans,” Emanuel added.

“We are locking down major arena tours for 2022 – and to make up for a year away from performing live, many of these tours are multi-year, spanning broad territories across North and South America, Europe and Asia.”

WME artists include Drake, Justin Timberlake, Adele, Bruno Mars, Pearl Jam, Kendrick Lamar, the Killers, Bjork, Frank Ocean, Foo Fighters, St Vincent, Shakira and more.

 


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Endeavor closes first day on Nasdaq up 5%

Endeavor Group Holdings, the parent company of international booking agency WME, is finally a listed company after shares began trading on New York’s Nasdaq stock market yesterday (29 April).

Endeavor’s or stock market launch, or ‘initial public offering’ (IPO), sees nearly 25 million shares of the company’s class-A stock offered to the market at US$24 per share, and is expected to close on Monday 3 May.

At the close of market yesterday, Endeavor (EDR) shares were priced at $25.20 – up $1.20 on the IPO price, but down from a daily high of $28.47 – with a trade volume of nearly 16m shares for the day.

Endeavor expects to raise around $1.8bn from the share sale, which also includes a private placement of 74.5m shares being sold to an investment group that includes the likes of Silver Lake Partners, Tencent, Dragoneer Investment Group, MSD Capital and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company.

Endeavor plans to use $835.7m of the proceeds to buy the remainder of UFC

Silver Lake, which also owns shares in Oak View Group and MSG Entertainment and a majority stake in TEG, is an existing Endeavor investor, while Tencent has partnered with WME on joint ventures in China. Dragoneer, meanwhile, recently bought into one-to-watch videogaming platform Roblox.

Endeavor says it plans to use $835.7m to buy the remainder of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), in which it acquired a majority stake in 2016, with other new funding put towards future joint ventures, investments and acquisitions.

The Nasdaq listing is Endeavor’s second attempt to take the company public, following an aborted flotation in 2019 amid unfavourable market conditions. Yesterday’s successful IPO came despite a 24% drop in revenues, to $3.5bn, in 2020 owing to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to WME and UFC, Endeavor’s portfolio includes sports agency IMG, comedy agency Dixon Talent and the Miss Universe pageant.

 


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WME ups pay for assistants

Talent agency William Morris Endeavor, together with the film-focused Endeavor Content, has announced a raft of measures to improve working conditions for assistants in the agencies’ Los Angeles, Nashville and New York offices.

IQ can confirm that assitants in WME’s UK offices are also receiving a pay rise, of £3,000, with an annual base increase of £1,000. For all new hires, the starting salary will be between £23,000 and £28,000. Changes are also to be rolled out shortly at WME’s Australian offices too, according to Deadline,.

Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel laid out the new plans in a company email last week, raising minimum pay for new hires and assistants in the US from $15 an hour to $18 an hour. Assistants will receive a further $2 an hour after completing their first year at the agencies.

The company also announced plans to further increase the minimum salary for all to $20 an hour by August 2021.

Assistants will also now be eligible for ten hours of overtime a week without pre-approval and will be considered for “discretionary bonuses”.

In addition to the pay rise, all WME and Endeavor Content assistants in the US will be eligible for two years of monthly medical premiums paid by the company. Assistants and coordinators will also have access to student loan relief of $1,000 after the first anniversary of hire, with an additional $2,000 after the second anniversary of hire.

“We congratulate WME on joining the growing ranks of entertainment companies committed to improving pay and work conditions for support staff”

The agencies are also making $50 a month available as reimbursement towards mobile phone expenses and, in a more symbolic move, inserting assistant names into email addresses, which previously were nameless.

According to the agency, the changes were planned to be announced sooner – fellow agencies CAA, ICM and UTA raised assistant pay in early 2019 and early 2020 respectively, in response to the #PayUpHollywood movement – but were pushed back due to the financial implications of the Covid-19 crisis.

WME is among major talent agencies to implement cost cutting measures in the past few months due to the pandemic, with around 20% of its global workforce subject to lay-offs, furloughing or pay and working hours reductions.

“While #PayUpHollywood is not privy to the contents of the WME email that was sent, the initial news announcing pay increases and additional benefits for support staff is heartening,” comment the movement’s founders, Liz Alper and Deirdre Mangan.

“We encourage WME to continue monitoring support staff workload and treatment to ensure the wellbeing of their most vulnerable employees.

“We look forward to the details of these initiatives and congratulate WME on joining the growing ranks of entertainment companies committed to improving pay and work conditions for support staff. It is proof that change, though slow, does happen, as long as allies and assistants continue speaking out.”

 


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