WME-IMG's Emanuel: It's winner takes all
Data and statistics are key to engaging consumers in sports, according to Ari Emanuel, co-chief executive of WME-IMG, the combined sports Hollywood talent agency and sports and entertainment company.
Speaking in a joint session at the Cannes Lions Creativity Festival with Dana White, president of UFC, the mixed martial arts promoter that WME-IMG acquired for $4 billion, both men talked of putting sensors on fighters’ gloves, their shorts, on the mat and in the arena to capture data like the impact speed of a punch.
Speaking of WME-IMG’s relationship with UFC, Emanuel (pictured with US president Donald Trump) said: “Half of our business is representation and half is things that we own. The things we represent we try to expand globally.”
He said that UFC now has “a global organization to help them… We do 900 events and 35,000 concerts a year. We have offices in almost every country. How we then take that and do a complement to all those businesses as a digital offering is our big challenge into the future.”
He added: “It’s winner take all, that’s kind of the way we look at the business as it relates to entertainment. We’re in every spectrum and then how we come to the consumer is going to be our next challenge.”
Citing internet giants like Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Tencenct, Alibaba and Verizon, Emanuel said: “They are going to be buying what they have to buy from us, and we are one of the biggest suppliers,” adding, “I think we have better sports than anyone in the world right now.”
Emanuel also pointed out that WME-IMG’s marketing and advertising business has profits of about $150 million, so the firm is “a different type of animal people haven’t seen.” Expanding on his “vision” for WME-IMG, he said: “The first step was William Morris, then it was IMG, then it’s half our business is representation that shows us to where the world is going.”
Sports acquisitions give the firm “a very interesting view on what all the markets are doing,” Emanuel said, adding: “So I think we’re in a really good place as more and more people need content and it’s easier to get to them.”