“I think he is one of the great thinkers in the business, and we’ll see what happens with Fox,” said Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel today of Disney boss Bob Iger. “He was right on Pixar, on Marvel and Star Wars,” the Endeavor CEO added. “His strategy now of over the top is the right strategy for his content.”
Praising one of the few people in the business he clearly views as an equal, the uber-agency boss was the headlining act at the VenuesNow conference in Beverly Hills on Wednesday afternoon. The sit-down comes over seven months after Emanuel and now Endeavor chairman Patrick Whitesell brought back their old agency name as the holding company for WME | IMG and their other ventures.
“Half of our business now is in the rights representation business, half is in the move, TV business,” Emanuel declared of where the overall company is almost a decade after Endeavor took over William Morris in a move that then stunned Hollywood. “That gives us pretty good insight into where the world is going,” the big picture guy, who once said he would never want to run a studio, asserted. “That gives us a pretty good idea where to point and target representation.”
“I do think that live events are much stronger right now but the movie business is OK,” Emanuel made a point of noting to the live event targeted ballroom, with a pivot to the international market and the quickly shifting landscape of the media business.
In that vein, Emanuel touched on the 2016 acquisition of UFC for just over $4 billion and how plans to maximize the TV potential of the MMA franchise took a hit from fast moving mega-mergers. “What I didn’t estimate was that the world would blow up and Disney buys Fox and the AT&T deal got postponed to June,” he said of the now Comcast bidding former and the just recently judicially settled latter melding of the communications giant with Time Warner AKA now Warner Media. “I was at the table and got dealt 4, but it’ll all work out,” he said almost as an aside.
With references to Kanye West live streaming his latest album release and the benefits of public education the relatively laid back chat with the self-described non-mogul went the biography route with how he into the business in the late 1980s. Chicago-raised Emanuel joked that his father “almost lost his shit on me” when the son told him he was quitting business school and going to work in the mailroom at CAA.
Before the often-cutting Emanuel took the stage at the Beverly Hilton a star and logo filled promo video played for the audience. “Our objective is not to maintain the status quo but define it,” the upbeat presentation kicked off with, setting the terms of the Q&A in many ways. “It took us 23-years to get that,” Emanuel said almost immediately after sitting down, joking about what the next 23-years could bring.
“This mind is kind of crazy and I have a lot of energy so I get to play in a lot of different areas,” he assured the audience of his motivation after years in the game. “I’m kind of non-stop and if I have ideas I just go.”
Though it might not seem self-evident at first, that last part is also one way you could describe Bob Iger too – or Rupert Murdoch.