Wasserman’s extended push to acquire The Montag Group and the firm’s loaded sports broadcast talent roster ended with a sales agreement announced Wednesday.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Wasserman, founded by Casey Wasserman in 1998, now counts Jim Nantz, Mike Tirico, Scott Van Pelt and other high-profile sports broadcasters among its clients with its latest purchase.
“We really identified them as the best in this space and if we had a chance to work with them, we were going to do it,” Jason Ranne, executive vice president and COO of talent representation at Wasserman, told Front Office Sports. “They were ready to strongly consider it at the end of last year and we were able to get it across the finish line. … It makes us stronger because it adds an incredibly successful and elite post-career media offering.”
The Montag Group CEO Sandy Montag started his career as an assistant to the late John Madden at IMG and counted the Hall of Fame coach and iconic NFL broadcaster as a client for years. Montag also was an executive producer of “All Madden,” the Fox Sports documentary that debuted on Christmas Day, just days before Madden’s passing last month.
After 30 years, the super-agent left IMG to form the Montag Group in 2014. Montag told FOS that his talks with Wasserman actually began about the time of his IMG departure, but he decided to build his own firm.
“There’s been a lot of consolidation [in the agency business] over the last couple of years and I give Casey and Jason a lot of credit for their persistence,” Montag told FOS. “They’ve always checked in with me. During the pandemic, you have a chance to evaluate a lot of things personally and professionally. I think towards the end of 2021, I really just decided that it was the right thing to do, most importantly, for our clients, our company and employees.”
The Montag Group had a partnership with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation to take Roc Nation’s roster of athletes, entertainers, and musical artists to the speaking circuit.
The Montag Group’s affiliation with The Roc Nation will end as part of the acquisition. Montag said they are “going to be operating a speaker’s group through Wasserman.”
With its blue-chip client list, The Montag Group has drawn multiple inquiries from other suitors over the years. The initial talks between Wasserman and Montag included discussion about an alliance or some other collaboration between the two firms before the current deal was worked out, sources told FOS.
The acquisition comes as sports streaming options from existing networks like ESPN and NBC along with Amazon’s push into sports — which includes its exclusive “Thursday Night Football” package launches next NFL season — has created a need for on-air talent.
“We’ve gotten inbound calls for top talent — from all the streamers — hunting for athletes that are still playing,” Ranne said. “So, it’s not like we’re not seeing the impact of it and the variety of opportunities [from streaming]. Now, with The Montag Group, we are going to direct those calls to the people who are the best of the best at doing those deals.”
In February 2017, Montag merged with Steve Herz’s IF Management, which focuses on representing news broadcasters. Later in 2017, Maury Gostfrand’s Vision Sports Group merged with Montag Group.
The acquisition, however, won’t include Herz’s IF Management. Herz, who has served as president of The Montag Group for the last five years, will relaunch IF Management as an independent company and the firm will have a strategic partnership with Wasserman.
In total, 22 The Montag Group employees will join Wasserman.
Wasserman has $6.5 billion in contracts with more than 800 clients globally in several segments of the sports industry.
Wasserman acquired Paradigm’s North American representation business earlier this year, a move that gave Wasserman more of a foothold in the live music arena. That purchase led the Los Angeles-based firm to launch Wasserman Music in April. Wasserman has also pushed heavily into Olympic sports, boxing and even representing Peloton instructors.
The financial details of Wasserman’s purchase of Paradigm’s North American music business were not disclosed. Variety reported that the piece of Paradigm acquired by Wasserman was valued at between $150 million to $200 million in 2020.
Wasserman’s other major talent-focused acquisitions over the last three-plus years, including:
- European soccer-focused agencies Key Sports and Top Value.
- Hockey agency firms Orr Hockey Group and Acme World Sports.
- The hiring of veteran NFL agent Chafie Fields in November 2019
- Several European basketball acquisitions in Lithuania, Serbia, and Slovenia.
- The acquisition of college marketing agency Riddle & Bloom.
“Sandy, Maury, and the entire Montag Group are the perfect complement to leverage our existing sports, music, brands, and properties business units to the mutual benefit of our respective clients,” Wasserman Chairman and CEO Casey Wasserman said in a statement Wednesday.
RedBird Capital acquired between a 30% and 40% stake in Wasserman in February. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.