Professional Bull Riders
Professional Bull Riders logo.png
SportBull riding
Founded1992
Owner(s)Endeavor
CompetitorsOver 500 total, 35 in highest ranked tour
Countries United States
 Canada
 Mexico
 Brazil
 Australia
Most recent
champion(s)
Brazil Jose Vitor Leme
Official websitepbr.com

The Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR) is an international professional bull riding organization based in Pueblo, Colorado, United States. In the U.S., PBR events have been televised on CBS and CBS Sports Network since 2012. In 2013, the PBR and CBS signed a contract that extended CBS Sport's partnership with PBR, making them the primary sports broadcaster for PBR.[1][2] In 2018, the PBR launched RidePass; its own subscription-based video on demand service that live-streams PBR events, as well as PBR-produced events for other western sport organizations. On July 20, 2021, RidePass switched from a subscription-based streaming service to a free, ad-supported streaming channel on Pluto TV.[3][4] More than 500 cowboys from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia and other countries hold PBR memberships.[5][6]

History

The organization began in 1992 through the efforts of 20 professional bull riders who gathered in a hotel room in Scottsdale, Arizona and each contributed $1,000. This group of riders were seeking to break away from traditional rodeo and gain better recognition for rodeo's most popular event. "We wanted to create a better product for the fans, so that when they tuned in they were seeing the best of the best every time," said PBR co-founder and nine-time world champion rodeo cowboy Ty Murray.[7] Murray later served as the president. In 2007, investment firm Spire Capital Partners acquired a majority stake in PBR and turned those founders’ $1,000 into millions.[8][9] In April 2015, Endeavor (formerly WME | IMG), a global leader in several industries, bought the PBR.[10][11]

The PBR put on a small series of events in 1993 and had its first championship season in 1994 with the Bud Light Cup Series (BLC). The organization has since grown to include four tours in the United States which stage over 100 events every year. Prize money had exploded from over $330,000 in 1994 to over $11 million in 2008.[12][13][6]

The original CEO of the PBR was Sam Applebaum.[14] Randy Bernard became CEO of the PBR in 1995, a position he held until he resigned in 2010 to become the CEO of INDYCAR.[15] When Bernard took over the position of CEO in 1995, it was just after the conclusion of the first World Finals at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. At that time, the PBR's bank account held $8,000. It was $140,000 in debt. Bernard, a bold and wise businessman, quickly went to work. At the end of his first year, he turned things around. The World Finals paid out $1 million, and increased to $1.5 million in 1999.

In 1996, the PBR made bull riding protective vests, which were introduced three years earlier, mandatory for all contestants at their events.[16]

In 2003, the elite Bud Light Cup Series changed title sponsors and became the Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS). In the past, PBR world champions received a year-end money bonus, but starting this year, they received a $1 million bonus. Chris Shivers was the first world champion to claim that bonus.[17]

In 2005, the PBR opened offices in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Australia to produce tours in said countries starting the next year.[18]

In 2007, the PBR had enough of its cramped office in downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado. They moved their headquarters to a new 4-story building just outside Pueblo, Colorado.[19]

2009 was the first year in which most of the contestants on the PBR’s televised elite series rode with helmets instead of cowboy hats.[citation needed]

On February 23, 2011, the PBR announced that Jim Haworth had become its new CEO.[20] Then on June 29, 2015, the PBR announced that Haworth was promoted to Chairman, while COO Sean Gleason had become the new CEO.[21]

In 2013, the PBR made it mandatory that all contestants at their events who were born on or after October 15, 1994 ride with a full bull riding helmet. Those born before that date were grandfathered in and permitted to ride with a protective face mask underneath their cowboy hat or simply with their cowboy hat if so desired.[citation needed]

In 2018, the elite series changed title sponsors once again and the Unleash the Beast Series (UTB) tour name replaced the Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS) tour name. It was also now referred to as the Premier Series.[22] That same year, the PBR celebrated its 25th championship season and awarded another $11 million in prize money, which included the bonus to the World Champion Bull Rider of $1 million and the $20,000 gold belt buckle.[23]

Las Vegas, Nevada was home to the PBR World Finals for over 25 years. The PBR hosted its inaugural World Finals in 1994 at the city’s MGM Grand Garden Arena. They remained at the arena through 1998.[24] In 1999, the PBR moved their World Finals to the Thomas & Mack Center. The PBR was stretching its current arena's limits and really needed a bigger arena. They wanted to stay in Las Vegas, so the Thomas & Mack Center was the place to go. The PBR World Finals was held at the Thomas & Mack Center in from 1999 until 2015. The 2015 World Finals was the 17th and last time the event was hosted at the venue.[25] In 2016, the PBR moved their World Finals event to the T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip.[26][27] In 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and Nevada state restrictions on large events, the PBR World Finals were moved to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas with a limited and socially distanced crowd for every day of competition.[28] The event returned to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for the final time in 2021.[29] The PBR World Finals will relocate to Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas in 2022, and instead of taking place in the autumn will now take place in the spring.[30]

From 2007 to 2010, the PBR hosted a team competition format called the PBR World Cup, where 25 bull riders (altogether representing the five countries where PBR events are sanctioned) competed to win the title of best bull riding country in the world. Since 2017, another event, the PBR Global Cup, again offers bull riders a chance to compete in a five country competition. This new event is a different format from the PBR World Cup; it is not a continuation of the old event. It is staged annually across the five PBR countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and United States. National team riders are matched against the best of each. The home country is granted a competitive advantage. It is a series that visits each nation each year and continues until one nation holds all five pieces of the Global Cup—including the native soil of each territory. Thus, only one country can claim The Toughest Nation on Dirt.[31]

On November 5, 2021, a new series of competitions was announced: the PBR Team Series. The series will debut in 2022 and run from the summer to autumn of every year. In its inaugural season, there will be eight teams representing different regions of the United States. In these events, teams of bull riders will go head-to-head against each other. The team with the highest total combined points among its riders after the conclusion of each event will be the champion. There will be a regular season with ten events, including two “neutral site” events and will culminate with a playoff and championship which will be held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The teams and their respective owners were announced on January 6, 2022, while the Team Series schedule was later announced on March 4 of that year.[32][33][34][35]

Organization

More than 500 cowboys from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, and other countries hold PBR memberships, and compete in PBR-sanctioned events in the five mentioned countries.[5][6] At the end of each season, the PBR world champion receives a $1 million bonus and a $20,000 belt buckle.[36]

The PBR has become one of the most globally successful television sports programs. The PBR Premier Series is televised weekly on CBS, CBS Sports Network, and other networks around the globe. PBR television broadcasts now reach half a billion households in 130 territories around the world. A new digital network named RidePass that started in February 2018 as a subscription-based streaming service before switching to a free, ad-supported streaming channel on Pluto TV in July 2021 adds hundreds of hours of PBR bull riding and other western sports to anytime availability.[37][38][39]

Total viewership, including event attendees and the television audience, grew 52 percent between 2002 and 2004. In 2004, 16.4 million fans watched or attended a PBR event. By 2008, over 100 million watched the PBR on television, and over 1.7 million attended a live event.[citation needed] In 1995, roughly 310,000 fans attended an event. Now, around 3 million fans attend a live event.[40]

Competition

A qualified ride is worth up to 100 points. That is, 50 points for the rider and 50 points for the bull when he successfully rides the bull for 8 seconds. An event has four judges, all former bull riders themselves. Each judge may award up to 25 points. Two judges score the rider, and two judges score the bull. All of the judges' scores are tallied together. That figure is divided by two for the official score. One-half of the possible score is based on the bull's performance. The two judges score the bull on how rank (difficult to ride) he is. Two judges score the rider on how proficient he is. The rider has to stay on top of the bull for 8 seconds. The rider has to ride with one free hand. He is disqualified if he touches himself or the bull with his free arm. Any ride that is scored 90 points or higher is deemed exceptional. The highest score in the PBR is 98.75 points. Each elite series always has four judges. At the end of each event, the top 12 riders compete in the championship round; the rider with the highest point total from the entire event becomes the champion.[41][42]

PBR tours

The PBR started their inaugural season in 1994 with one tour.[12][13] Today, it offers four tours in the United States. Eligibility of contestants at each level is based on previous performance.[43]

Current U.S. tours

Premier Series

The Premier Series is where the best riders and bulls compete, and it culminates at the PBR World Finals at the end of the regular season. Due to sponsorship changes, the Premier Series has had different titles throughout its history. It was known as the Bud Light Cup Series (BLC) from 1994 to 2002, the Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS) from 2003 to 2017, and since 2018 has been known as the Unleash the Beast Series (UTB). The World Finals were held in Las Vegas, Nevada for over a quarter century. They were held at the city’s MGM Grand Garden Arena from 1994 to 1998,[24] the Thomas & Mack Center from 1999 to 2015,[25] and T-Mobile Arena from 2016 to 2019.[26] In 2020, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the finals were relocated to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.[44] The 2021 PBR World Finals returned to Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena for the final time in 2021.[45][46] In the past, the Premier Series schedule lasted the regular calendar year, with the concluding PBR World Finals taking place in the autumn. However, starting in 2022, the Premier Series schedule will be shortened, running from January through May. Also, the PBR World Finals will now take place at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.[47]

Touring Pro Division

In 1995, the PBR launched the Touring Pro Division; a minor league tour that allowed riders to compete at lower-level events to work their way up to the elite series. In 2000, the Touring Pro Division was renamed as the Challenger Tour. In subsequent years, the PBR would launch other lower-level tours: the Enterprise Tour and the Discovery Tour. On January 1, 2010, the PBR announced the discontinuation of the Enterprise and Discovery tours and the Challenger Tour was changed back to its original title of the Touring Pro Division.[48][49] In late May 2022, after the conclusion of that year’s PBR World Finals, the Touring Pro Division will be changing names once again and will now be known as the Challenger Series; similar, but not identical what it was known as during the 2000s. From 1995 to 2012, the year-end champion of this tour was the rider who won the most money throughout the season, but since 2013, it has been the rider who has won the most points throughout the season. Throughout its history, the finals for this tour was held in different locations such as Guthrie, Oklahoma, Denver, Colorado, Columbus, Ohio, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Atlanta, Georgia. However, from 2010 to 2021 there was no finals event. From 2010 to 2012, the year-end champion was the rider who won the most money throughout the season after the last event of the year, and from 2013 to 2021, it was the rider who won the most points throughout the season at the end of the last event of the year. Starting in 2022, this tour will have a finals event again and it will be taking place at the South Point Hotel Arena & Equestrian Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Velocity Tour

Since 2014, The Velocity Tour features young and up-coming talent competing against the established talent of the sport. The tour brings events to cities across the United States that are not included in the UTB series. The Velocity Tour Finals take place a few days before the start of the PBR World Finals. During its first year in 2014, there was no Velocity Tour finals event, and the year-end champion was the rider who won the most points throughout the season after the completion of the last event of the year. However, there has been a Velocity Tour Finals since 2015. The first Velocity Tour Finals in said year was held at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. From 2016 to 2019, the Velocity Tour Finals took place at the South Point Hotel Arena & Equestrian Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.[50] In 2020, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the finals were moved to the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.[44] The 2021 Velocity Tour Finals returned to the South Point Hotel Arena & Equestrian Center in Las Vegas for the final time.[51] In 2022, the Velocity Tour Finals will move to the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas to be held in conjunction with the World Champions Rodeo Alliance (WCRA) sanctioned Rodeo Corpus Christi. Like the Unleash the Beast Series regular season and PBR World Finals, the Velocity Tour regular season and finals will now take place from winter to the middle of spring after having previously taken place throughout the regular calendar year and concluding in the autumn.[52]

The Velocity Tour offers the chance to earn points to attempt to qualify for the UTB series and the PBR World Finals. Additionally, every winner of a Velocity Tour regular-season event will be seeded at one UTB event during the season, providing another opportunity for the PBR's newer talent to increase their position in the overall world standings.[53]

Team Series

New in 2022, the PBR Team Series will feature eight teams of bull riders in its inaugural season. There will be ten regular season events, including two “neutral site” events, and the season will culminate with a playoff and championship at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The PBR Team Series will run from July to November of every year. The teams and their owners are as follows:

International tours

Since 2006, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and Mexico have each had their own PBR tours, and points earned on those tours count towards the U.S. qualifier standings and a spot in the PBR World Finals. In 2014, a PBR-sanctioned event was held in New Zealand.[55]

U.S. television & streaming

1993–2002: The Nashville Network (TNN) began televising a small number of PBR-sanctioned events in 1993. The following year, the PBR had its first official season that included a year-end world finals event with TNN remaining the organization's official channel. TNN changed its name from The Nashville Network to The National Network late in the 2000 season. After the 2001 season, a special PBR event was televised on NBC. The last regular season event of 2002 was televised on CBS. TNN remained the PBR elite series’ primary channel until the 2002 PBR World Finals.[citation needed]

2003-2012: The PBR was now primarily televised on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) with select events being televised on NBC. From 2003 to 2006, select events were also televised on Telemundo. In the middle of the 2006 season, OLN changed its name to Versus and it remained the PBR's primary channel through the 2011 season. The championship round of the last regular season event of 2007 was televised on Fox. In the summer of 2008, a series of PBR events in which duo teams of riders competed against each other was televised on ESPN. In 2012, CBS Sports Network became the PBR's primary channel, while CBS broadcast network televised the 15/15 Bucking Battles; a new competition that featured the top 15 PBR riders at the time of competition against 15 of the top PBR bulls in a select regular-season elite series event that gave the riders an opportunity to earn additional points. That same year, Versus became NBC Sports Network and select PBR events were also televised on said channel.[citation needed]

2013–present: CBS Sports Network televises the regular-season Premier Series events and the World Finals, while CBS broadcast network televises the 15/15 Bucking Battles. In 2018, the PBR launched RidePass; its own subscription-based video-on-demand service that live-streams PBR events, as well as PBR-produced events for other western sport organizations. PBR events were also live-streamed on the subscription-based video-on-demand service, FloRodeo, owned by FloSports. In the summer of 2021, RidePass went from a subscription-based streaming service to a free, ad-supported streaming channel on Pluto TV. PBR content on Pluto TV is available through the PBR RidePass linear channel, as well as on demand. Beginning in 2022, the new PBR Team Series will be televised on CBS Sports Network, CBS broadcast network, and streamed on Pluto TV. Some events of the PBR Challenger Series will also be streamed on Pluto TV.[citation needed]

Current statistics

The PBR web site tracks many statistics regarding the performances of bull riders and bulls during the season and throughout its history. There is the 90-Points Club, which has been tracking rides that have been scored over 90 points since 1998. Then there is the high marked bull ride statistic, which has been tracked for many seasons. Each season it tracks the highest bull scores throughout and until the Finals have concluded. And then there is the all time money earners statistic, which tallies the bull riders in order of who has earned the most money in their careers. Additionally, the success rate for an 8-second ride was 46 percent in 1995, had dropped to 26 percent by 2012, then climbed roughly 3 percent to about 29 percent for 2017 and 2018. This lower modern rate has been attributed to the selective breeding of bulls.[56]

90 Point Club

In 2002, the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company developed the original 90 Point Club. Each contestant who scored 90 or more at a Bud Light Cup Series event shared in bonus money of $90,000. The money was distributed after the world finals event. It was divided equally by all the qualified rides. The competitor with the most 90 point rides received an additional bonus of $10,000. That competitor also became the 90 Point Club Champion.[57] In 2003, it was added that for each 90 point ride that a bull makes, the stock contractor received $1,000. For that $1,000, half came from U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company and half came from B&W Hitches.[58]

The first statistic kept is the most 90 points rides since 1998. Chris Shivers has held first place for a very long time with 94 rides. J.B. Mauney holds second place with 75 rides. Justin McBride is at third place at 74 rides. Jose Vitor Leme holds fourth place with 58 rides, and Guilherme Marchi is at fifth place with 51. Shivers, McBride and Marchi are all retired, and since 2021, Mauney no longer rides in the PBR, so all their numbers will stay the same. New for 2018 was the most 90 point rides for the year and the contractor 90 point rides for the year. Lastly, are the historic 90 points rides trailing all the way back to 1998. They are ordered by the highest to lowest ride score. The rides list the rider, the bull, the contractor, the location, and the ride score.[citation needed]

High Marked Bull

These statistics keep track of the current season's elite tour event's high marked bulls. B.O.T. stands for buck off time. Each event has a high-marked bull. The top 100 bulls scores are also tracked here.[59]

Highest Scored Ride

The perfect score in bull riding is 100 points. For several years, the highest score in the PBR was 96.5 points, which was achieved four times. The mark was originally set in 1999 by Bubba Dunn, who rode Promise Land (owned by Terry Williams) in Tampa, Florida. The record was later tied in 2000 by Chris Shivers, who rode Jim Jam (owned by Logan & Williams) also in Tampa. Shivers would repeat the score in 2001 when he rode Dillinger (owned by Herrington Cattle Company) in Las Vegas, Nevada at the PBR World Finals. The most recent 96.5 point ride was in 2004, when Michael Gaffney rode Little Yellow Jacket (owned by Berger Bucking Bulls) in Nampa, Idaho.[60]

In 2021, new records for third highest, second highest, and highest scored rides in PBR history were all set on the same bull, Woopaa (owned by Barker Bucking Bulls and Hookin’ W Ranch). The new record for highest scored ride was originally set in the summer, when Jose Vitor Leme rode Woopaa for 97.75 points in Tulsa, Oklahoma.[61][62] A new record for second-highest score in PBR history was later set in the autumn when Dalton Kasel rode Woopaa for 96.75 points in San Antonio, Texas.[63] The record for highest scored ride in PBR history was later broken at the World Finals when Jose Vitor Leme rode Woopaa for 98.75 points.[64]

Highest Bull Score

Even though riders receive no score if they buck off their bulls before the required eight seconds, bulls receive scores for every outing, with the perfect bull score being 50 points. The highest bull score in PBR history, 49 points, was achieved twice, with the first time being in 2000 when Hercules (owned by Flying U/Rosser Rodeo) bucked off Gilbert Carrillo in Portland, Oregon, and again in 2002 when Hammer (owned by Tony Sharp and Zaunbrecher) bucked off Cory Rasch in Uncasville, Connecticut.[citation needed]

All Time Money Earners

The all time moneys show off the PBR's claim that they have changed bull riding into a real sport that does more than just pay the riders' fees. PBR bull riders make a true living, and many are millionaires several times over. Two-time world champion J.B. Mauney has earned the most money of any rider at over $7.4 million. He is followed by three-time world champion Silvano Alves at over $6.1 million, and in third place is world champion Guilherme Marchi with over $5.3 million.[65]

Previous challenges

Mossy Oak Shoot Out

Starting with the 2000 season[citation needed], this event was a bonus ride that was featured the first night of each two-day BLC/BFTS event. The Shoot Out matched up the event's first-round winner against a prearranged bucking bull. The rider had to make a qualified ride to win the Mossy Oak cash bonus. In the event that he failed, $5,000 would be added to the bounty, and the new amount would be offered at the next two-day event's Mossy Oak Shoot Out.[66] The bonus capped out at $100,000, and when a rider made the whistle and collected his bonus, the bounty was then reset to $5,000 at the next event. Notable winners of the Shoot Out included Ross Coleman who racked in $100,000 after successfully riding Tuff-E-Nuff[67] (Columbus, Ohio, 2001)[citation needed], Owen Washburn who collected $90,000 on Hammer[67] (Bossier City, Louisiana, 2003)[citation needed], and Jim Sharp who won $85,000 on Dillinger[67] (Fort Worth, Texas, 2002)[citation needed]. This event was discontinued after 2006[citation needed].[67]

Ford Truck Moment of Truth

In this challenge which started in 2001[citation needed], the average leader going into a BLC/BFTS Championship Round got a chance to win $5,000. If this leading rider won the event, he also won the "Ford Truck Moment of Truth" bonus money. If the average leader did not win; however, the prize money increased by $5,000. This repeated until a bull rider was successful. After a rider won the money, the whole pool started over again.[68]

Wrangler High Marked Ride

Circa 2003, there was a contest where Wrangler used to reward the rider with the highest marked ride at the majority of BFTS events. If there was a tie, both riders were awarded. [69]

Ford Super Duty Challenge

This challenge gave the top 45 bull riders an opportunity to compete for a $1 million bonus. One elite bull rider won a Super Duty Ford Truck and one won a $1 million bonus through the achievement of performance milestones. The bull riders competed at seven pre-determined BFTS events. Winners of these events became eligible for incentives. A bull rider who won two or more events became eligible for to win the $1 million bonus and had to win the 2005 PBR BFTS Finals event. The bull rider that finished the highest in the event aggregate won the Super Duty Truck.[70] Adriano Moraes drove away with the 2005 Ford Super Duty Truck.[71]

Enterprise Rent-A-Car Ride with the Best Challenge

From 2007 to 2010, the rider who won the previous round at a regular season BFTS event was offered the chance to win $5,000 if he successfully rode a randomly selected bull in the next round. If the rider failed to make a qualified ride, the $5,000 went to the bull’s stock contractor.[citation needed]

Salem National Lease High Mark Bull Bonus

Circa 2010, the High Mark Bull Bonus was paid to the stock contractor of the bull. The bonus was designated to the bull who received the high bull score at each BFTS event. The bonus amount was a weekly amount of $1,250. The PBR World Finals were excluded.[72]

RMEF Trophy Bull Challenge

In 2010, the challenge was added. It was a season long challenge. All BFTS events and the World Finals were included. Cody Lambert selected three bulls from every long round. If the bull bucked the rider off, the stock contractor received one point. If the rider achieved a successful ride, the rider received a point. The winners of the Challenge, the top three riders and stock contractors with the most points received an RMEF outdoor adventure of their choice, which happened at the end of the season.[73]

Champions and awards

Main article: List of Professional Bull Riders Champions

Heroes and Legends Celebrations have their own article Heroes and Legends Celebrations which lists the Ring of Honor, Brand of Honor, Jim Shoulders Award, Ty Murray Top Hand Award, and the Sharon Shoulders Award. The Ring of Honor for bull riders is equivalent to a hall of fame induction.[74]

Main article: Professional Bull Riders: Heroes and Legends

See also

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