Industry News 11/11/2013

B$Z: Nitro Circus, Extreme Athletics Brand, to Merge With Touring Company

Nitro Circus, Extreme Athletics Brand, to Merge With Touring Company
Official Announcement Made via The New York Times

One of the highlights of any Nitro Circus show comes when Aaron Fotheringham, an extreme wheelchair athlete, careers down the megaramp and does a double back flip in midair, landing 50 feet away.

Mr. Fotheringham, known as Wheelz, performs his act shortly before a dirt bike rider performs a similarly acrobatic feat as explosions rock the racetrack, all while thousands of raucous fans cheer from the stands.

Though Nitro Circus is more of a carnival sideshow than an athletic showcase like the Olympics, the brand has won the hearts and dollars of the coveted young male demographic.

And while fans of this brash entertainment franchise tend to be younger, the business itself is finally growing up.

On Monday, Nitro Circus will announce that the two businesses that worked together to produce the brand’s live shows, television programs and films will become one company.

The merger of the touring operation and the performance business, previously separate entities, is being helped by an investment of about $25 million from the Raine Group, a New York merchant bank with deep roots in the entertainment industry.

With a unified team and a new infusion of capital, Nitro Circus hopes to extend its reach around the globe.

It is planning a permanent live show in a still unknown site in Las Vegas, and another permanent live show in Macau, this one in an unused Cirque du Soleil theater at the Venetian Macau hotel.

The spectacles, featuring motorcyclists, skateboarders, scooter riders and other wheeled daredevils performing death-defying feats, play well with resort city crowds with idle time and cash to spare.

The group will also set up a training academy where it will field new talent for its shows and teach a new generation of enthusiasts how to emulate their favorite action sports stars.

“We had to find a way to bring the two companies together and supercharge the business,” Michael Porra, the chief executive of Nitro Circus, said in an interview.

Raine will become a large minority shareholder in the combined company, but the total valuation of the business could not be determined.

“This industry had been on our radar, but this is unique,” Brent Richard, a vice president at the Raine Group, said in an interview. “It crosses a lot of themes in participatory sports. You have active participants, and it crosses language and geographic borders quite easily.”

Raine was also attracted to the fact that the average age of Nitro Circus fans, who are mostly men, is just 23. This demographic is increasingly difficult for advertisers to reach, and Raine has already invested in Vice, a youth media outlet.

Travis Pastrana, an extreme athlete, and his friends Jeremy Rawle and Gregg Godfrey created the Nitro Circus brand. Operating under the Godfrey Entertainment name, the three started by making a DVD of their exploits in 2003, and they built the brand over the next decade. Mr. Porra is from Australia and founded Nitro Circus Live to help the group tour internationally.

But the two businesses had remained separate until now, a source of complications as the group worked to grow.

“We are super pumped to be partnering with the Raine Group to take the brand to the next level,” Mr. Pastrana said in a statement.

Though Nitro Circus athletes risk life and limb at each show, there has never been a serious accident during a performance. But the face of the empire, Mr. Pastrana, has suffered his share of injuries over the years.

Speaking to the talk show host Jay Leno recently, he acknowledged that participating in extreme sports of the kind featured in Nitro Circus had left him with a dislocated spine, torn left knee ligaments and a broken fibula.

A version of this article appears in print on 11/11/2013, on page B7 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Nitro Circus, Brash Athletic Brand, To Merge With Touring Company.