WME-IMG now free to solicit offers for new media rights deal

October 3, 2017

As we head into October it is worth noting that the exclusive negotiating period between WME-IMG and Fox to renew the UFC television contract came to an end.  WME-IMG will be free to solicit its television deal with others.

The UFC signed a 7-year deal with Fox in 2011 worth a reported $100 million per year (although others reported the deal at $115 million).  The current deal ends at the end of 2018.  The contract with Fox came with an exclusive negotiating window of 90 days which began this past July.

Last November, the UFC proclaimed that it was eyeing a $450 million per year deal for its next contract.  It will offer four annual broadcasts, six annual cable events and weekly programming as well as UFC Fight Pass.  It’s unlikely that the UFC will give up its PPV business with this upcoming deal.  Industry executives opine that the new deal will grant the winning bid more input into the matches and what will be a part of the UFC PPV events.

Payout Perspective:

It was likely that there would be no deal with Fox during this exclusive period as the new owners wanted to see what it could obtain in the open market.  With the possibility of bidders like Turner, CBS/Showtime, NBC and the wildcard that is Amazon out there, the UFC could be an attractive sports property.  But can it grab a $450 million deal?  It appears that the market for sports properties has dried up a bit and it’s hard to fathom that it can secure a $450 million deal (e.g., WWE’s media rights deal in 2014).  But, despite the low PPV buys this year and the volatility of the product (i.e., injuries and/or drug tests that may put off fights), it is still one of the better properties attracting the younger male demo.  We should see movement on this in the coming months.

4 Responses to “WME-IMG now free to solicit offers for new media rights deal”

  1. Diego on October 3rd, 2017 4:58 PM

    Over/under? Anyone want to make some bets?

  2. d on October 4th, 2017 4:53 AM

    It’s going to be big, could be non exclusive, but collectively, whoever they agree to terms with will probably be in total at least 350m. That’s a major increase in revenue and was the biggest reason why WME bought the company at that valuation.

  3. Jason Cruz on October 4th, 2017 7:03 AM

    I think Amazon will be a major player in this deal as it may take Fight Pass to its Amazon Prime platform

  4. JM on October 4th, 2017 2:44 PM

    Should be interesting! ESPN, FOX, and Amazon are the major players it appears. One key to focus on is whether TV will start to get more of a priority than PPV, which I assume will be the case. I expect only about 4-6 PPVs (stacked cards) to take place and majority of content to move to TV/Cable.

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