Hollywood agencies fight over Tim Tebow
Michael Levine stood out in the room full of media at Tim Tebow’s Jets news conference on Monday. The co-head of CAA Sports, dressed in a dapper suit, schmoozed TV media types and looked on like a proud businessman.
After all, Tim Tebow was his business.
Well, sort of.
CAA’s Hollywood rival, William Morris Endeavor, actually also counts Tebow as a client.
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How is this possible?
Well, CAA represents Tebow for his football contract. WME represents Tebow for his marketing.
This is not the first time something like this has happened. Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford are all repped by CAA’s Tom Condon for their contracts, but IMG’s Alan Zucker represents the three quarterbacks for marketing.
Given the size of the players’ contracts, it has worked out well for both firms. But William Morris Endeavor figures to get the best of its rival CAA on Tebow for the next couple years.
Tebow is scheduled to make a base salary of $1.1 million this season. If CAA takes its three percent cut, they make a commission of a measly $33,000.
Let’s say William Morris Endeavor conservatively cuts two deals for Tebow this year for a total of $2.5 million in new deals. The commission on that would be about $500,000, considering the standard 20 percent marketing fee.
And WME would get the commissions on the renegotiations of Tebow’s first deals with Nike, FRS and Jockey, which were already negotiated by XV Enterprises, a management firm set up by Tebow’s brother Robby with his longtime family friend Angel Gonzalez.
XV Enterprises was always set up to manage Tebow’s endorsement offers – the company negotiated a Tebow special with ESPN and his best-selling book as well – but when Tebow started getting more playing time with the Broncos, the number of endorsement offers skyrocketed to a point (sources say in the hundreds) that the small company needed more help.
How WME even got the Tebow business should be a case study taught to business schools. Tebow and XV Enterprises went to meetings with both CAA and WME. Sources who were at the meetings said told CNBC that CAA spent much of its time talking about the attributes of the firm and marketing deals it had done in the past.
WME was much more strategic. Their interest in Tebow skyrocketed after research showed that Tebow was as powerful as any celebrity on college campuses across the country. WME wowed Tebow and his team with data they’ve never seen on what groups he is strongest with and the best deals to do.
Although Tebow’s team knew it would ultimately create tension, they knew it was in his best interest to award his marketing to William Morris Endeavor, giving his business to the fiercest competitor of the company that does his contract.