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It’s official: Oak View Group acquires Pollstar

Irving Azoff and Tim Leiweke’s Oak View Group (OVG) has completed its long-rumoured acquisition of Pollstar, adding the US-based concert business title to its portfolio of trade magazines.

The buy-out of Pollstar follows OVG’s acquisitions of SportTechie last November and Venues Today in December, and was announced at Venues Today’s inaugural VenuesNow conference in LA yesterday.

In addition to its weekly magazine and daily news service at Pollstar.comPollstar’s assets include its box-office database, which provides information on tour ticket sales and grosses, annual year-end reports and the annual Pollstar Live! conference in the US.

Speaking at VenuesNow, Leiweke said: “Pollstar has represented the voice of record for the live music and ticketing industries for over three decades, and bringing them into the OVG family is a true honour for all of us. Working hand in hand with Pollstar’s leadership team, we’ll look to greatly optimise the reach of its print, digital and conference assets.”

Pollstar president/editor-in-chief Gary Bongiovanni and CEO Gary Smith will remain in their positions under the new management.

“Working hand in hand with Pollstar’s leadership team, we’ll look to greatly optimise the reach of its print, digital and conference assets”

Oak View Group (OVG), a venue development and investment vehicle founded by former Live Nation chairman Azoff and ex-AEG CEO Tim Leiweke, was launched in November 2015. It comprises five divisions: the 26-member Arena Alliance; 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.

Azoff is also a partner in Azoff MSG Entertainment, a joint venture with Madison Square Garden Company. The company is currently embroiled in a public ‘booking war’ with rival venue operator AEG, with both parties barring acts from playing some of their venues unless they tie it in with a show at another: for example, MSG’s LA Forum and Madison Square Garden and AEG’s Staples Center and The O2.

“We are very excited to become part of the growing OVG family and its vast array of worldwide resources,” said Bongiovanni. “After 35 years of independent operation, a key factor in our making the deal was OVG’s understanding of the importance of keeping our editorial coverage and services neutral as we speak to, and for, the entire concert industry.”

Pollstar has served our industry as a trusted and invaluable resource during an era where music and ticketing have evolved dramatically,” added Azoff. “Their insights and analysis are fundamental to the success of our business and we’re looking forward to growing the brand’s influence and impact for years to come.”

 


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OVG in $40m arena partnership deal with Walmart

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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