George Pyne, the founder and CEO of Bruin Sports Capital, the global sports and entertainment company headquartered in New York, is one of the most knowledgeable, incisive and respected operators in the global sports industry. Callum Murray caught up with him on behalf of the Business of Sport Podcast with the International Sports Convention to ask him his views on the future of global sport. How will it emerge from the global pandemic? Where will the opportunities lie? And how is technology changing the way we view sport?
In the short term – the next 12 to 36 months – “the future for game-day revenue is going to be challenging,” he warns, continuing: “The pandemic is going to be with us for a while. Mid-way through next year there’s a possibility of a return to normal, but the cost of delivering a live event will go up.”
Pyne continues: “Billions and billions of revenue is being taken out of the system and that going to be a shock to the system and that shock is going to last for a while.” Even if spectators are able to attend events again, Pyne expects the market to experience “turbulence” for two reasons:
- “Coming out of the pandemic, people will be naturally hesitant to go back to live events;
- “If people take 12 months off from a lifestyle decision, there’s a chance that they might find other interests and not come back.”
Bruin employs 15 people itself, while about 1700 work at its 18 portfolio companies. These include the likes of: Deltatre, the sports broadcast technology company whose CEO Giampiero Rinaudo was the subject of a previous Business of Sport Podcast (https://internationalsportsconvention.com/the-business-of-sport-podcast-giampiero-rinaudo-ceo-and-co-founder-deltatre/), Two Circles, the UK-based data-driven sports marketing agency; and OverTier, a joint venture with WPP which distributes NFL Game Pass, the NFL’s OTT service, globally.
In April, the coronavirus lockdown forced Bruin to abandon its planned sale of Deltatre for an expected figure of over $1 billion, having acquired it in 2016 for about $160 million. However, Pyne insists that he was not disappointed and that Bruin is in no hurry to put Deltatre back up for sale, saying: “We’re under no pressure to anything, except for the right thing. Our thinking now is we love the management team and we’re going to work to aggressively build that company. It’s a global company, it works with many of the major federations and broadcasters around the world, and we’re excited about the future. I see us in there for a number of years going forward.”
Pyne remains upbeat about the future of the sports industry, despite the challenges it faces, predicting that it will once again return to strength in “three or four years,” because sport’s intrinsic value, its unique ability to “represent” its fans, “that’s not going anywhere.”