Opry Entertainment Group Revenue Soars 57.3% in Q3 as Nashville Recovers From Pandemic
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). Through the first nine months of 2022, the entertainment segment grew 86.2% to $183.6 million.
Excluding acquisitions and investments over the last three years, Opry Entertainment Group revenue and EBITDA were 19% and 21% higher than over the same period in 2019, said CEO Colin Reed. Among its properties are Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium and Wild Horse venues, as well as the media network Circle, a three-year-old joint venture with Gray Television.
“This is the same type of growth we saw pre-pandemic,” said Reed. However, the company lowered the top end of its guidance range for full-year entertainment adjusted EBITDAre (a real estate version of EBITDA) from $80 million to $76 million (the bottom end of the range remained at $72 million).
Opry Entertainment Group is benefitting from increasingly strong tourist interest in Nashville. Outgoing CEO Reed said Nashville International Airport had a record 1.83 million travelers in June, up 9% from the same month in 2019. Nashville also set a record for hotel demand in June of 875,000 room nights, 11% greater than in June 2019.
Ultimately, Ryman wants Opry Entertainment Group to “flourish as a standalone, separate entity,” said Reed. 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 a 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, said president Mark Fioravanti, who will succeed Reed as CEO on Jan. 1, 2023. Prior to the seventh anniversary in 2029, Atairos Group and NBC Universal can sell their stake back to Ryman if there has not been a sale, spin-off or IPO.
Bringing aboard 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 the company created 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 branched out to 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 Theater, home of the television show Austin City Limits Theater, as well as the W Austin Hotel and retail and office space.
Reed is optimistic that Nashville’s growth will benefit Opry Entertainment Group without hurting its core hospitality business. There are more than 50 new hotel developments in Nashville-Davidson County, Reed said, and the city projects over 2,600 additional rooms will be available in the next two years. These hotels aren’t competitors to Ryman’s Opryland Resort and Convention Center on the outskirts of town, he noted, and they will bring additional customers to Ryman’s entertainment properties in the city.
“Many of these new visitors will end up seeing a show at the Ryman, touring the Opry House or spending an evening at Ole Red or the Wild Horse,” another downtown Nashville venue in its portfolio, said Reed. “When they leave Nashville and return home, or they go to Austin or Las Vegas for their musical pilgrimage, we’ll be there, continuing to engage with them whether through our investments in expanding the Ole Red footprint or deepening our virtual reach across linear television, digital streaming or online.”