Ryman Hospitality Properties’ country-focused entertainment business, Opry Entertainment Group, saw its revenue grow 57.3% to $77.2 million in the third quarter, the company reported Monday (Oct. 31). In the first nine months of 2022, the entertainment segment grew 86.2% to $183.6 million.
Excluding acquisitions and investments over the past three years, Opry Entertainment Group’s revenue and EBITDA were 19% and 21% higher than over the same period in 2019, the CEO said. Colin Reed. Among its properties are the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium and Wild Horse venues, as well as the Circle media network, a three-year-old joint venture with Gray Television.
“This is the same kind of growth we saw pre-pandemic,” Reed said. However, the company lowered the top end of its guidance range for full-year entertainment adjusted EBITDAre (real estate’s version of EBITDA) from $80 million to $76 million (the bottom end of the range remained at $72 million).
The Opry Entertainment Group is benefiting from increasingly strong tourist interest in Nashville. Outgoing CEO Reed said Nashville International Airport had a record 1.83 million passengers in June, up 9% from the same month in 2019. Nashville also set a record for hotel demand in June of 875,000 nights room, 11% more than in June 2019.
Ultimately, Ryman wants Opry Entertainment Group to “thrive as an independent, separate entity,” Reed said. To that end, in the second quarter, Ryman sold 30% of Opry Entertainment Group to investment firm Atairos Group and media giant NBCUniversal for a combined $300 million in a deal that closed in the second quarter. The new investors have the right to request an initial public offering four years after the deal – in 2026 – or sell their stake back to Ryman for cash or shares, the president said. Mark Fioravantiwho will succeed Reed as CEO on January 1, 2023. Before the seventh anniversary in 2029, Atairos Group and NBC Universal can sell their stake back to Ryman if there has been no sale, spin-off or IPO.
Attracting new investors should help Opry Entertainment Group’s efforts to capitalize on the popularity of country music and culture. Ole Red, a chain of multi-level bar/music venues created by the company in partnership with country star Blake Shelton, opened its fourth location in Orlando in 2020 and a fifth location in May at Nashville International Airport. A sixth location in Las Vegas is scheduled for 2023.
The company expanded into another fast-growing city in the second quarter by closing its acquisition of Block 21, a mixed-use property in Austin, Texas that includes ACL Live at Moody Theatre, home of the TV show. Austin City Limits Theatreas well as the W Austin Hotel and retail and office space.
Reed is optimistic that Nashville’s growth will benefit Opry Entertainment Group without harming its core hospitality business. There are more than 50 new hotel developments in Nashville-Davidson County, Reed said, and the city anticipates more than 2,600 additional rooms will become available in the next two years. These hotels are not competitors to Ryman’s Opryland Resort and Convention Center on the outskirts of town, he noted, and will bring additional customers to Ryman’s downtown entertainment properties.
“Many of these new visitors will end up seeing a show at the Ryman, touring the Opry House or spending a night at Ole Red or the Wild Horse,” said another downtown Nashville venue. in his portfolio, Reed. “When they leave Nashville and return home, or when they go to Austin or Las Vegas for their musical pilgrimage, we’ll be there, continuing to engage with them whether through our investments to expand Ole Red’s footprint or deepen our virtual reach across linear. television, digital streaming or online.”