Will Endeavor Be Able Land UFC TV Rights Buyer At $300-400M Price?
Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel has spent months trying to sell TV rights to the UFC, but "no buyer has stepped up" to pay the $300-400M a year Endeavor reportedly is seeking, according to sources cited by Lucas Shaw of BLOOMBERG NEWS. Sources said that 21st Century Fox, which has the contract now, has "expressed its interested in keeping the sport, and Endeavor is waiting to see if the company will increase" its estimated $200M bid. The negotiations are a "big test for sports rights owners." Buying UFC was Emanuel’s "biggest investment in his bid to transform Endeavor from a talent agency" into a "media colossus with live events, streaming services, athletes and models all over the world." Endeavor has "lowered its expectations in private." And sports-rights analysts say that the company "isn’t dependent on one market to justify the purchase price." Fox has been "considered the frontrunner." Sources said that they had an "exclusive window to negotiate a new deal, but that closed last year and the talks have slowed." Fox’ UFC audience has "shrunk" more than 30% since '15. Sources said that Endeavor is "talking to other suitors, including tech and phone companies and traditional TV players." Amazon bought non-exclusive rights to PPV matches, and Emanuel could "split the other rights between a technology company and a media company." Sources said that Emanuel would "prefer one big deal that includes TV." Turner Chair & CEO John Martin and President David Levy have told several people they are "interested in UFC, but their ability to bid is partly hampered by an ongoing government challenge to AT&T Inc.’s acquisition of their parent company Time Warner." ESPN "declined to comment, though several people familiar with the company’s plans said it was bidding" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 3/7).