By Chloe Aiello
Bull riding isn't just for the rodeo, anymore. It's coming to a major city near you ー and streaming online ー thanks largely to the efforts of Colorado-based Professional Bull Riders. And the organization has plenty more tricks up its sleeve to keep its momentum going.
"We're tackling a few big projects this year. We're going to Staples Center in downtown L.A., which puts us in Madison Square Garden, Chicago, L.A. ー the three biggest markets in the United States," Professional Bull Riders (PBR) CEO Sean Gleason told Cheddar on Friday.
"Our over-the-top network RidePass is booming, and it's a big project for us. It's helping us to grow," he added.
Over the years, bull riding has grown from just a sideshow at the rodeo to "one of the highest earning and most watched non-prime-time spectator sports," according to a study in The Sport Journal. Gleason, who was joined on Cheddar by professional bull rider Tanner Byrne, said his organization faces the constant challenge of extending that tremendous growth.
"As the leader of the business it's very rewarding when you come off year after year of growth and records, but it's also a challenge," Gleason said. "How do you keep that rolling?"
One approach is booking events in major cities, like New York City ー PBR kicks off its three-day "Unleash the Beast" event at Madison Square Garden Friday. Another is expanding RidePass.
PBR kicked off its over-the-top streaming service RidePass in Feb. 2018(https://www.pbr.com/en/news/press-releases/2018/2/pbr-announces-ridepass-new-western-sports-digital-network.aspx
) to offer subscribers live-event coverage and companion coverage for PBR events on CBS.
Gleason said the service beat expectations in its first year.
"We've exceeded our initial expectations, we're ten months in, we just signed a co-distribution agreement yesterday with FloSports. And we've acquired a bunch of rights to support PBR as well," he said.
The deal with live sports streaming site FloSports is a multiyear partnership that will ensure more than 150 live events and 700 hours of RidePass content will stream to FloRodeo.com starting with "Unleash The Beast."
PBR plans to broadcast about 1,000 hours of sports coverage this year.
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