Axios Pro Exclusive Content

Comcast buys into Grand Ole Opry 🤠

Illustration of a hundred dollar bill as an equalizer. 

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Ryman Hospitality Properties has sold a 30% stake in Opry Entertainment Group — its entertainment businesses that includes Nashville's Grand Ole Opry — to NBCUniversal and a Comcast-backed investment fund, Atairos, for $293 million.

Why it's the BFD: Ryman wants OEG to be able to run separately from its main real estate business. The deal values OEG at $1.4 billion.

  • The Grand Ole Opry is one of the most famous music venues in the world and gives NBCU a bigger footprint in the country music scene.

Details: Most of the investment will come from Atairos, which will contribute $278 million, with NBCU paying the rest.

  • OEG will also get a $300 million Term Loan B, which raises the total monetary amount of the deal to almost $600 million.
  • As part of the deal, Atairos has agreed to invest an additional $30 million at a $1.5 billion valuation "contingent on certain performance targets being achieved," according to Ryman's announcement.
  • Atairos is led by former Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis.
  • In addition to the Opry, OEG also owns Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, music venue Ole Red and the lifestyle network Circle, which is a joint venture between OEG and Gray Television. OEG also owns the Opry's archive, which includes 60 years of live recordings.

Be smart: Comcast's ownership of U.K. broadcaster Sky, as well as assets like "Saturday Night Live" and "The Voice," could be a boon to OEG.

  • In an investor presentation about the deal, Ryman pointed to the two shows as partnership opportunities.

What they're saying: Ryman received "unsolicited interest" last June, which caused them to hire a banker to look for a strategic partner.

  • In a statement, Ryman's CEO Colin Reed explained they were looking for someone who "shares our vision for growing OEG to a position where it can operate independently of our core hospitality business."
  • "We are excited to partner with the RHP and OEG teams to explore new content distribution strategies and support their ambition of becoming the leading player in country lifestyle live entertainment and media content," Angelakis said in his own statement.
Go deeper