UFC And WWE: Uneasy Tag Team Partners?

With the increasing focus on and growing value of live sports entertainment, you might wonder why medium and fringe-level live-sports franchises have not seen a major lift in getting big rights fees for legacy TV and streaming-based platforms.

Think about sports like motorcycle racing, cornball events, pickleball, and say, professional lacrosse. Does this all have to do with packaging different kinds of sports -- at a specific interest level?

I'm guessing rights holders of those sports may actually be seeing better business revenues of late.

But what about the big sports-revenue producers -- the NFLs, the NBAs, the Major League Baseballs, the Nascars?

All this might be in consideration now that talent-based company Endeavor Holdings Group is merging with WWE in a monster $21 billion-dollar deal.

Endeavor's mixed-martial arts business, the UFC, will be put together with that of “sports entertainment” company WWE.



This is sports content, as broadly as we can describe it.

No matter. There is viewership here -- as well as national TV advertising dollars for legacy TV networks and newfangled streamers.

And there is sponsorship money for UFC/WWE from high-paying pay-per-view events as well.

But most significantly, there is leverage. Many analysts may not totally agree with packaging UFC/WWE, thinking it will not be perfectly aligned with a specific consumer product/service marketer's needs, for example.

Both UFC/WWE skew younger and more male. That gives a boost to old networks looking to grab those more enticing and growing demographic skews.

Those TV marketers looking for a young, male audience -- always a draw -- can find it here.

Other analysts say the UFC/WWE should take their cue from what the NFL has been doing -- selling off individual TV-video shows/series to different media platforms. 

For example, in addition to its linear TV deals on CBS, NBC, ABC/ESPN and Fox, the NFL now has newer deals with Amazon Prime Video (“Thursday Night Football”) and YouTube (“NFL Sunday Ticket”)

Right now, the UFC has content on ESPN's TV networks and ABC, as well as ESPN+ streaming, primarily for “UFC Fight Night.”  

On the Fox Television Network, WWE airs its two hour “Friday Night Smackdown”. And the WWE Network, a subscription video-on-demand service, can be found on NBC's streaming Peacock streaming platform.

The belief is that UFC and WWE will appeal to different marketers -- for the most part.

But the hope is that there will be some big crossover as well. That's where the growth is.

Should other sports content providers be thinking the same -- when it comes to expanding their base?

It's all about fighting, no?

If you buy into that -- however you define it -- then Endeavor has a fighting chance.

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