Friday, January 07, 2022

America’s Love of ‘Yellowstone’ Helps Launch Bull Riding as a Team Sport

 The cable western “Yellowstone” is a hit on TV. Hunting and fishing license sales are up. Are Americans returning to the frontier ready to root for hometown teams…of bull riders?

The Professional Bull Riders, the largest league for the sport of the American West, hopes so. On Friday, PBR plans to announce it is turning “the toughest eight seconds on dirt” into a team sport, establishing eight new franchises of riders vying to stay atop a thrashing bull longer than the next guy.

They have lassoed some billionaires to help make it happen. The teams will be owned by a collection of high-net-worth individuals who bring an interest in the sport, experience owning other teams—and expertise in commoditizing the lifestyle of the American cowboy.

The owners and bull-riding executives say the time is ripe for a return to simpler pastimes. Months of quarantine orders drove families toward outdoor activities, and a broad relocating across the country has seen home sales surge in wide open spaces. Behind PBR’s capitalization of the moment is an unlikely owner: Hollywood’s biggest talent agency, Endeavor Group Holdings Inc., which went public last year and bought the bull-riding league in 2015 for $100 million, as part of its campaign to diversify away from representing movie stars and keep Wall Street from bucking the stock.

The talent agency started to glamorize the bull riders immediately after buying the league. Sylvester Stallone attended an event to watch a bull named “Yo Adrian!” Bonner Bolton, a one-time rodeo cowboy, booked a modeling campaign. Client Steven Tyler of Aerosmith recorded a new anthem for the league called “Hold On (Won’t Let Go).” The new team league will be broadcast on CBS channels and Pluto TV.

In Hollywood parlance, the sport of rodeo clowns and 1,500-pound bulls has something else: brand equity...WSJ

No comments: