CAA-ICM

Two of the big players in podcast talent management are becoming one. Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has struck a deal to buy rival ICM Partners in a move they say will “create deeper, broader, and more competitive opportunities”. ICM brings to CAA a roster of podcast companies as well as artists in film, television, music, comedy, theater, gaming and politics.

“The strategic combination of CAA and ICM bolsters our collective resources, expertise, and relationships to deliver even more opportunities for our world-class clients to build their careers and their brands across multiple disciplines and platforms in an evolving marketplace,” said CAA’s Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane, and Richard Lovett in a joint statement. “Our strong financial position enables us to continue to expand and diversify our businesses, with service and representation remaining central to what we do and who we are. We’re fortunate to have a partner in ICM who shares our commitment to the widest and most inclusive vision possible for what our clients and company can accomplish together.”

The deal also boosts CAA’s international reach as it adds ICM’s London-based ICM Stellar Sports, which serves more than 800 clients around the globe and maintains offices in ten countries. CAA says the deal will also “drive broader and more inclusive representation” for its clients.

ICM Chief Executive Chris Silberman will join CAA’s shareholder board. “Together, we will build upon our accomplishments and entrepreneurial spirit, and continue to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to the best interests of our clients, as well as empowering new, diverse voices within the industry,” he said in a statement.

ICM’s podcast efforts have been led by Director of Podcast Initiatives Caroline Edwards since 2019. ICM has recently struck podcast deals for actors John Stamos and Alan Cumming, and writer Ariel Ramchandani.

CAA’s podcast division has been led by Josh Lindgren since March when CAA said it had triple-digit growth in audio business. During the past few years CAA has built a podcast roster that includes many of the most successful podcast properties, creators, and production companies, including Stuff You Should Know, NPR correspondent Ari Shapiro, Dr. Death reporter Laura Beil, producers Little Everywhere, Salt Audio, Lauren Bright Pacheco, Futuro Media Group, Gideon Media, Maximum Fun, and Lemonada Media, among others. CAA also represents such podcast networks as Gimlet Media and The Ringer. 

SAG-AFTRA said the combination of ICM and CAA could have some upside for talent. "SAG-AFTRA welcomes any change that results in increased negotiating power for talent as they bargain individual deals with the multi-billion dollar corporations that produce content,” said National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.

Financial terms of the deal were not released. Its size will assuredly make it a potential target for Justice Department antitrust review however, although the fact that two other strong rivals – WME and UTA remain – better its odds. Once government clearance is in hand, CAA expects the deal to be completed by year-end.

The move comes as CAA majority owner TPG Capital is said to be considering a move to go public. In addition to its ownership in CAA, the private equity firm also holds stakes in Univision and Spotify, among other media companies.