The UFC’s 2001 agreement with FOX was a sign that the UFC was approaching the mainstream media audience. The new owners of the UFC, WME-IMG, appear to be very optimistic about the upcoming negotiations for their media rights. Their current contract with FOX expires in 2018 and the owners are expecting to have multiple bidders because of a scarcity of sports content at that time.
As written by Steven Marrocco of MMA Junkie, the UFC is looking to split the US and Hispanic markets. Marrocco also points out that the television agreements for the MLB, PGA, and NHL all expire in 2021, three years after the UFC hopes to have their new media rights agreement sold.
Marrocco also writes:
It doesn’t hurt that the UFC’s FOX deal comes with “escalators,” or yearly increases, that add to the bottom line. The presentation states a $140 million payout for 2016 will grow to $168 million by 2018.
Amid a rising trend in rights fees, the document claims the UFC will increase from .99 percent of the total U.S. sports market in 2016 to 1.31 percent in 2019.
Pay-Per-View revenue continues to be the driving force of the UFC. With performances from top fighters and huge events the UFC created record revenue numbers in 2013 and 2015. The extreme volatility of PPV programs was seen in 2014 when fighters were continually upended by fighter injuries, resulting in a drop in revenue below $500 million. A deal with a media company, such as FOX or ESPN, would create a stabilizing form of revenue.