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The next David Beckham: When Hollywood meets sport

updated 8:34 AM EST, Fri December 20, 2013
Peyton Manning's face is known around the world. The Denver Broncos quarterback is one of the biggest names in NFL and a key part of the IMG empire. Peyton Manning's face is known around the world. The Denver Broncos quarterback is one of the biggest names in NFL and a key part of the IMG empire.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • William Morris Endeavor seals deal to buy IMG
  • Will see WME combine sport and entertainment
  • Peyton Manning and Novak Djokovic amongst IMG clients
  • WME represents Steven Spielberg and Denzel Washington

(CNN) -- The search is on for the next David Beckham.

In a dream match up, the talent agency which represents global superstars Oprah Winfrey, Matt Damon and Christian Bale has bought sports agency IMG, which deals with tennis ace Novak Djokovic and NFL star Peyton Manning.

The price of merging sport and entertainment is a reported $2.3 billion, paid by Hollywood agency William Morris Endeavor and private equity partner Silver Lake.

"This has all come about with the process of sport morphing into entertainment," Simon Chadwick, Professor of Sport Business Strategy and Marketing at England's Coventry University, told CNN.

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"If you look at some of the sports personalities who are in the IMG portfolio then you realize they're not just sports stars. They are brands."

Chadwick believes this agency tie up is an attempt to create "brand longevity" for their clients.

"Take David Beckham, who is the perfect model for what agencies want from their brands," said Chadwick.

"He went from being a football player to a fashion icon, has moved on to being a sporting ambassador and now he's on the brink of becoming a franchise owner," added Chadwick, referring to Beckham's interest in bringing a new Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise to Miami..

"Beckham is like a template. It's all about the creativity and longevity of the brand and that's what Beckham has achieved."

According to figures reported by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the sports business is set to grow to around $68 billion by 2017 from $57 billion this year within North America -- an increase of about 5% per annum.

The acquisition will give William Morris all the rights to IMG's college sports business and a whole list of stellar names currently looked after by the agency including Justin Timberlake, Djokovic, Maria Sharapova and Taylor Swift.

"IMG has incredible strategic value to WME," said William Morris' co-CEOs Patrick Whitesell and Ariel Emanuel.

"The brand's global reach, outstanding management team and leadership across sports, fashion and media are a strong complement to our business."

WME, which represents Steven Spielberg and Denzel Washington, is now hoping to capitalize on the appeal of global sports stars such as Djokovic and Sharapova.

"I was somewhat concerned that IMG would be taken over by venture capitalists," added Chadwick.

"I think it's better in some ways that this kind of organization has taken them over.

"It is their core business; they know how sport operates and how it works."

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