Rapid Transformation of Sports Agencies (And Where It's Headed)
And the impact sweeping through all of sports as the needs of athletes, founder, & startups are changing.
One of the most outdated industries in the world is the “representation” industry.
And that’s not me saying that — but people who operate in that world on a daily basis.
So why is that?
It’s typically more about the agent than the athlete, which is why there has been little innovation in the industry for over 30 years.
Star athletes, coaches, musicians, etc. pay a % of their contracts and endorsements to the agency…and this can sometimes incentivize transactional behavior.
But the needs of athletes are starting to change (and their immense influence is giving them the leverage they didn’t previously have).
Innovation is slowly starting to occur — at both a macro and micro level.
Let’s Dive In 👇
10 Largest Sports Agencies
As you’ll see…
The space is top-heavy with a handful of agencies having a lot more weight to throw around.
Top 10 Sports Agencies By Contracts Under Management:
❶ CAA — $17.78B
❷ Wasserman — $9.49B
❸ WME — $6.4B
❹ Excel Sports Mgmt. — $5.75B
❺ Athletes First — $5.42B
❻ Boras Corp. — $3.9B
❼ Octagon — $3.24B
❽ Roc Nation Sports — $2.58B
❾ Klutch Sports Group — $2.27B
❿ Newport Sports Mgmt. — $1.88B
According to Forbes, the top five agencies’ commission figures add up to $3 billion, more than double the total for the next 15 agencies.
Sports Agency Space is Consolidating
And the big firms continue to get more powerful through their checkbook.
Over the last year we've seen several notable acquisitions:
1️⃣ Roc Nation Sports expanded into South America through the acquisition of São Paulo-based agency TFM (they now represent over 120 soccer players).
2️⃣ Wasserman acquired Jet Sports Management for baseball, Esportify for rugby, Mullhaupt Management for golf, Caric Sports Management for the NFL, and talent marketing agency BSE Media Group.
4️⃣ Creative Artists Agency (CAA) added soccer powerhouse ICM partners in a reported $750 million deal (three years after acquiring Base Soccer).
But here’s where things get interesting…
$7B for CAA?
French luxury billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault is in talks to buy CAA for a reported $7B.
The luxury product he wants this time isn’t clothing, but athletes.
Keep in mind…
The agents and players won’t make any money if this acquisition goes through — which is also why we’re seeing more agents start their own firms alongside big athletes.
Ownership is the name of the game going forward.
Rise of Athletes in Venture
Athletes are going through a change in needs…
They don’t just want to endorse products — but have real ownership of them.
The rise of the athlete investor can be seen in these developments:
1️⃣ CAA, Wasserman, and WME launching their own venture arms to provide ownership opportunities for athletes (and strategic assets under their umbrellas).
2️⃣ Rudy Cline Thomas buying 33% of the management firm Athletes First to bring his venture deals to their clients.
3️⃣ Big League Advance partnering with several athletes to join the ownership group of the English soccer club, Leeds United.
4️⃣ LRMR Ventures inking a lifetime deal with Fenway Sports Management to facilitate opportunities for Lebron James.
5️⃣ OneTeam and Will Ventures partnering to create access to venture capital opportunities for their 4,000+ athletes.
Why do these make sense?
The outsized value that engaged athletes can bring to startups is a hot commodity in the market.
Ownership > Equity
It boils down to this…
Agencies have direct access to the athletes who now want ownership positions — so plays are being made to make sure the needs are met.
It’s also about providing resources to athlete-backed ventures, such as the various business owned by Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, and other athletes.
Some athletes (e.g. Naomi Osaka) are even leaving their agencies to re-create their own — and try to innovate the space further.
But at the end of the day…
Those with the most capital, resources, connections, and expertise will continue to drive the representation space forward.
What’s Next for The Sports Agency Space
I think we will see more acquisitions over the next few years…
Particularly soccer agencies ahead of the 2026 World Cup and some of the first NIL/influencer firms will get scooped up.
Individual athlete business partners and athlete communities are also playing a role in this evolving ecosystem.
Overall, the agency space is becoming more than just contracts & endorsements:
• media opportunities
• international clients
• downstream into college & HS
If you want to dive deeper, there’s a list of 150+ sports agencies on the Profluence Website.
Today’s guest is Antonio Cacorino, CEO & co-founder of APEX Capital.
APEX helps athletes invest in the sports, media, and entertainment industries (they’ve done 15 deals to date).
You’ll enjoy this episode as we discuss:
Value add of athlete investors
Impact of Saudi Arabia’s money
Differences between European vs U.S. sports
Check out the podcast episode here.
As always, I appreciate you reading the newsletter (and listening to the podcast).
Let me know if there is a topic you would like to see me dive deeper into.