September 19, 2017 Sean Burns
Sports Business Daily is reporting that Learfield and IMG College have agreed to a merger that will combine the two giants in college sports, with a finalized signing and official announcement in the coming days after final details are worked out. The report, written by Michael Smith and John Ourand, indicates that the merged business will be run by Learfield President and CEO Greg Brown.
If completed, the merger would bring the multimedia rights to 200 schools under the same umbrella for the first time.
Until now, a brand that wanted a truly national college sponsorship had to execute multiple contracts across different agencies because rights were splintered among six major rights holders, Learfield and IMG College being the two largest. Merging the two businesses will create the closest thing to a one-stop shop the college space has ever seen and, theoretically, make the unified company a much more effective sales engine for college sports.
As competing companies with significant overlap, it is likely that the consolidation will mean the elimination of many redundant jobs, given that both companies independently employ nearly 1,000 people. The company will be worth close to $2B after merging, per analysts cited in the SBD article.
It is unclear what affect, if any, the merger would have on the collegiate ticketing world. Learfield increased its share of the market with its acquisition of Paciolan from Comcast Spectacor this summer. Paciolan then acquired TicketsWest and WestCoast Entertainment in August, operating those businesses under their original brands. IMG College and Learfield have operated the joint venture IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions since 2012. In the event of a merger, it is possible that the ticketing end of the new business will be the least affected by the otherwise big movement as the large companies eliminate redundant positions to operate efficiently.