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.
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.