Pluto TV Streams Professional Bull Riders Event at Crypto.com Arena – Business Insider

Between the massive popularity of “Yellowstone” and the Oscar nominations dominance of “The Power of the Dog,” Westerns are having a major moment — and the Professional Bull Riders league (PBR) is aiming to capitalize on that heat at a time when live sports are more crucial than ever for both linear broadcasters and streaming services.
“Everybody’s intrigued by the cowboy hat these days,” said Kosha Irby, PBR’s chief marketing officer. “Our CEO Sean Gleason says it all the time: ‘Name a more iconic symbol than the cowboy hat.’ When you see a person wearing a cowboy hat, you automatically think of ‘1883,’ of ‘Yellowstone.’ I’d like to say that we paved the way for those movies and those shows to kind of exist because we’ve modernized it and made ‘cowboy’ cool.” 
Founded 30 years ago, PBR was acquired by Endeavor (then-named WME/IMG) in 2015 at a reported value of more than $100 million. The organization has since been looking to expand its audience, integrating its standalone streaming service RidePass — which had “tens of thousands” subscribers, said Irby — exclusively into Pluto TV as a linear and on-demand channel in July 2021. All of PBR’s media rights are owned by Paramount Global, as the recently renamed ViacomCBS is known, with events airing on broadcaster CBS and ad-supported streaming service Pluto TV
Those looking to see cowboys try to cling to a bull for dear life for eight seconds can watch PBR’s February 22 “Unleash the Beast” event in Los Angeles exclusively on the AVOD — the tournament is aptly named the Pluto TV Invitational. Irby noted that PBR viewership has grown “exponentially” since its association with the streamer: RidePass has racked up more than two million viewing hours on Pluto TV between last summer and January of this year. 
“We’re seeing growth on both fronts: We’re allowing ourselves to educate a fan base that was a Pluto fan before us and now becoming a Western sports fan,” said Irby. “And we’re introducing our fans to the streaming service.” 
The Pluto TV Invitational is expected to draw thousands of fans to the Crypto.com Arena, with ticket sales so far reaching 50% to 60% of the stadium’s 20,000-person capacity. 
At the outset of the pandemic, PBR was the last professional sports league to shut down on March 13, 2020, and the first sport to get back into gear a month later in April, Irby said. PBR hosts several shows elsewhere in California during the year in cities such as Anaheim, Sacramento, Fresno, and San Luis Obispo. The organization produces all of its own content and owns its TV trucks, meaning it has greater control over the production and distribution of its aired events than other leagues. 
Other streaming services have been looking to live and on-demand sports to reel in more eyeballs, from Disney-owned ESPN+ to Comcast’s Peacock, which offered multiple ways to view the Winter Olympics. As PBR expands its events to now include a team-format league set to launch in June, it is counting on Pluto TV to lasso more fans of the sport. 
“That is one of the reasons why getting with a behemoth like Paramount makes sense for us — because it allows for us to lean on that platform,” said Irby. “If you want to find viewers, go where viewers are. They got a lot of viewers and we try to get them to siphon over to our product as well.”
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