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Who Will Take the Top 4 Spot in the Agency Wars?



With the once-ubiquitous ‘Big 4’ Agencies now down to a Big 3, we’re seeing a decided power vacuum in the Hollywood Agency space. Is there an obvious contender for that full-service alternate spot to the Big 3, or is this a permanent shift in the landscape? Our expert entertainment attorney, Brandon Blake of Blake & Wang P.A, takes a deeper look into the state of the agency landscape.

A Reshaped Landscape

With the CAA now officially the owners of once-rival ICM Partners as of last June, the once-Big 4 are down to three officially- CAA, WME (owned by Endeavor) and UTA. Which leaves space for an ambitious midsize firm to potentially step into that de facto No 4 spot.


Currently, it seems A3 Artists Agency is eyeing that coveted spot quite hungrily, as they’re already reported to be shopping among their rivals for expansion potential- to date, APA, Verve, and another (undisclosed) agency have been approached. Both APA and Verge have made much of rejecting those overtures. But it’s telling enough they were made in the first place, really.

The Need for Expansion

A3, who are presumably in some stage of early talks with the unknown third agency, point to the significant upscaling in size among the ‘Big 3’ as reason to be thinking expansion. It’s an idea that makes solid sense. If one is to remain competitive, the ‘second tier’ cannot lag too far behind the top echelons, or the divide may become too wide to cross. A3 reportedly wishes to build on its existing divisions to offer more services in more arenas for exactly that reason.


Of course, A3 is not alone in this move. APA and Europa Content (mostly production and literary work) has formed a ‘strategic alliance’ of late, aimed at expanding their media rights/IP arenas. With some key brand-name stars added to their roster, too, APA currently consider themselves a strong contender for that No 4 spot. We’ve also recently seen Paradigm buy our three talent firms (3 Kings Entertainment, Napoli Management, and Two Twelve Management and Marketing).


We have both the protracted (and ultimately successful) WGA strike and the changed landscape of the pandemic to thank for this seismic shift in the agency landscape. Many writers who were signed with large-scale agencies moved to mid-tier or  boutique setups during the tense standoff that ensued, and we saw many agents shift as well. Plus, of course, an economic atmosphere where growth (sometimes voracious) is nearly the only way to stay competitive and profitable. Most of the largest agencies are now publicly traded entities, too. While there’s definite pros to listing on the stock exchange, it does mean stakeholders demanding rising revenues.


Let’s not ignore the changes within the entertainment industry, either. With streaming growing exponentially has come a list of challenges for theaters and linear TV alike, a softer ad market, and a new potential strike on the horizon, too. Sensible M&A strategies can help buffer this lack of a ‘seller’s market’ and still allow for signing new clients.


For now, the power vacuum lingers- but it’s clear many of the larger mid-tier agencies would be keen to assume that Top 4 spot. It will be interesting indeed to see who is victorious in the end.