Grand Ole Opry Sells Nearly $300 Million Stake to NBC Universal, Atairos
The Grand Ole Opry is expanding its interests on a global scale. The country music institution's parent company, Ryman Hospitality Properties, has sold a 30 percent stake in its entertainment operations to two investment firms.
Comcast-backed NBC Universal and Atairos now hold a minority stake in Opry Entertainment Group (OEG) amounting to $293 million, the Hollywood Reporter reports. The bulk of that money comes from Atairos, who is contributing $278 million. OEG is also set to receive a Term Loan B for $300 million, for a total sum of $593 million. All told, in the deal, OEG is valued at $1.415 billion.
A statement obtained by the Tennesseean states that together, the companies are hoping to leverage OEG as "the leading player in country lifestyle live entertainment and media content" on a global scale.
OEG's holdings include the Grand Ole Opry and its AM radio station, plus the Ryman Auditorium, Blake Shelton's Ole Red bar and venue and the Circle network, which is a partnership between OEG and Gray Television. Another asset is the Opry's 11,000-hour vault of live recordings, including some of the most iconic country performances throughout history.
In addition to the original terms of the deal, Atairos has agreed to contribute another $30 million in the future if "certain performance goals are met," the Hollywood Reporter details.
Ryman Hospitality chairman and CEO Colin Reed tells Variety that the company wasn't interested in selling OEG outright, but rather that they sought out organizations that could expand the Opry brand's reach. He'll serve as executive chairman of OEG, in addition to maintaining his Ryman Hospitality Properties duties, and Atairos partners Alex Evans and Jackson Phillips will join the OEG's board of directors.
In terms of what kind of end goals Opry fans can expect to see from this partnership, Reed hints that more live music outposts could be in the offing.
"We're looking at the potential growth of more theaters to put the artist in the center of brands like Ole Red," he notes, adding that the Circle Network is another area being focused on in terms of growth.
"We're looking for new content that we can put on the Circle platform and to build better distribution and affiliation with advertisers," he adds.