For a long time, IMG stood alone as the behemoth in an industry made up of smaller boutique agencies. Athletes were not making near the money that they make today, and agencies were making a fraction of the commission dollars that they now earn. IMG had an advantage, it was a mega sports agency that also had its hand in a variety of entertainment opportunities. The company has continued to expand, because it must. It has dropped its team sports representation wing to focus on its individualized (tennis, golf, etc) sports ventures. IMG has not given up acquiring many entertainment, media, and sports entities, though. But the company that once dominated, now sees a handful of competitors on the rise. They are acquiring more and more business every day, and are a threat to the old guard. They are also a threat to the smaller boutique agencies, just hoping to survive (unless the small agency is bought by one of the new conglomerates).
The old guard of sports agency conglomerates was founded with IMG. Soon, William Morris Agency (WMA) and Wasserman Media Group (WMG) would enter the fold, and bring a new dynamic to the world of being a sports agent. No longer was it enough to just be an agent who was well versed in contracts, collective bargaining agreements, endorsements, etc., but now, if you wanted to sign a big time athlete, you needed an entertainment wing. The Big 3 re-shaped the sports agent world. New agencies have continued to sprout up (and still do) with Insert Name Here Sports & Entertainment. All of them are trying to offer a similar product to the conglomerates, but few have truly succeeded in marketing themselves as a true Sports & Entertainment powerhouse.
The old guard still exists and thrives based on its continued growth and stature in the industry. There have been additions to the conglomerates, however. The Big 3 turned into a party of 4 when Creative Artists Agency (CAA) decided that it would expand into the sports agent industry. After signing some of the best agents with the best client sheets from all around the world (including IMG), CAA has become one of, if not the biggest and most powerful conglomerates in the industry.
Smaller agencies quivered at the thought that there was another conglomerate in the mix. Fighting against the old guard was hard enough. With CAA now in the mix, getting marquee clients would become even tougher. But now there is a new player looking to become the newest member of the conglomerates. The party of 4 has been crashed. The 5th pillar has been established, and Blue Equity has become a force to be reckoned with.
Blue Equity owns SFX Sports, Blackwave Media Group, Worldwide Football Agency, and has just purchased Game Seven Sports Marketing [Blue Equity buys Lexington sports agency]. Now Blue Equity can add representing top college coaches to its list of achievements.
Is the door now closed for a while on potential conglomerates? Will we see more acquisitions from the conglomerates that already exist? How will the old guard react to the new entrants? And will smaller agencies be able to survive? The industry is changing right before our eyes.