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Professional Bull Riders and ViacomCBS, have inked a deal that will merge PBR RidePass, the subscription streaming service from the Endeavor-owned sports outfit, into Pluto TV, the free ad-supported streaming service.
That means that effective July 20, PBR RidePass (which brands itself as “the Netflix for western sports”) will be free, after launching in 2018 with a $7.99 per month price point. The first live event to stream on Pluto will be the Days of 47 Cowboy Games and Rodeo from the Utah Fair State Park beginning July 20.
PBR and ViacomCBS are already TV partners, with CBS and the CBS Sports Network already carrying dozens of live events from the western sports outfit. Terms of the new deal were not disclosed.
The deal also continues a trend of sports leagues and sports content companies cutting back on their in-house streaming ambitions in favor of partnerships with large media and entertainment companies.
Most notably the WWE folded its WWE Network streaming service into NBCUniversal’s Peacock, making its tentpole events like Wrestlemania free for subscribers. Similarly, in its new deal with the NHL, ESPN+ effectively took over the out-of-market streaming service NHL.tv that the league had long operated itself.
For companies like PBR, the deal provides a stable, guaranteed revenue stream, and the potential a much wider audience, while the streaming services like Pluto TV get exclusive live content that isn’t available elsewhere. ViacomCBS says Pluto TV has more than 50 million global users.
It is also a partnership strategy that Endeavor has used before. Endeavor’s other wholly-owned sports franchise, UFC, partnered with ESPN to make its signature pay-per-view events exclusive to ESPN+. It was a strategy that has worked to drive subscribers to the sports streaming service, and significant revenue to UFC, both companies have said in earnings reports.
Now, the company is betting that it can raise the profile of PBR with its new streaming deal, while bolstering its streaming cashflow in the process.
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