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Entertainment Business / UFC

Next UFC Broadcast Deal Could Be a Digital Platform

On The Unnamed Podvideocast with Jason Gay, Dana White said that instead of going with a traditional network for the UFC’s next broadcast deal the MMA company could instead use a digital platform.  White says that with the declining subscriptions to ESPN and seeing his own kids prefer digital devices to television that the future is with digital, over the top (OTT) platforms.

Dana White says:

“I think where you really see it is, look at ESPN… Look at how powerful ESPN was five years ago, what they were getting per sub. Their subs are dropping. They’re scrambling to figure it out right now.”

“There’s no doubt that the internet and OTT is where it’s all going. So, it’ll be interesting to see when the smoke clears who’s still around and who’s not.”

ESPN once considered buying the media rights to the UFC and was rumored to be interested in buying the UFC before WME-IMG, but decided to pass.  The World Wide Leader in Sports has also been aggressively pushing its own app with a streaming service starting in 2018.  The ESPN streaming service will feature Top Rank Boxing.

The UFC already has an OTT service called Fight Pass but this new service would be much more comprehensive in terms of live events.

A distinction between the UFC and other organizations like the NFL is made on the podcast.  The NFL doesn’t produce its own events.  Networks like FOX and CBS produce the events for broadcast.  The UFC produces all of its own events regardless of whether a given event is for PPV or if it is for Spike.

Ringside Analysis:

Every sports organization from the MLB to the NFL to NCAA Football is looking for ways to speed up games and make them fit into a smaller, more convenient time frame.  Very few people have enough time for three and a half hour football and baseball games.  Dana White says that the UFC is one of the best positioned sports for the future:

“Fighting, it works everywhere, all across the planet,” White said. “Now with technology, we’re getting to the point I always dreamed about. I always used to say, ‘We’ll take this thing all around the world, build a fanbase, build some talent in every country around the world and then we’ll get to a point in time where everybody can watch it at the same time — on the same platform.’ We’re getting to that day.”

The UFC may look to split up broadcast rights to traditional distribution channels, like television, and digital streaming.


Entertainment Business / MMA / UFC

Golden Boy Boxing Partners With ESPN

Golden Boy Boxing and ESPN have partnered together to create “Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN.”  The program will begin in March.

According to ESPN:

The series, sponsored by Tecate, will air on ESPN2 and will be simulcast in Spanish on ESPN Deportes as well as streamed on ESPN3. A few of the 2-hour cards, which will generally take place twice per month, will not be available on ESPN2, however, because of scheduling conflicts.

The deal includes 18 cards in 2017 (which will air either on Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays) and 24 more in 2018. ESPN has an option for a third year of the series.

ESPN Exectuvie VP of Programming and Scheduling Burke Magnus said:

“We are excited to announce this new agreement with Golden Boy Promotions, one of the world’s top promoters… ESPN and ESPN Deportes look forward to featuring a new series of exciting world-class matches, along with a deep and wide variety of studio and digital content, in this multi-year, exclusive, live fight package.”

Golden Boy Boxing owner Oscar De La Hoy cited ESPN’s reach as a big selling point in entering into the partnership.  The promotional company will rely on sponsors to pay the fees for air time instead of relying on licensing fees from ESPN.

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Entertainment Business / MMA / UFC

Amanda Nunes Interview on Live with Kelly

After going on Good Day LA Amanda Nunes continued her media run with an appearance on Live With Kelly, which is becoming a regular stop for the UFC women’s bantamweight champion.  Holly Holm visited the set with Michael Strahan and Kelly Ripa after her win over Ronda Rousey in 2015.

On the show Nunes demonstrates how to perform a rear-naked choke on Christian Slater who was co-hosting with Kelly Ripa.  She is able to slowly go through the motions that can establish to some viewers that there is a process to finishing MMA fights and that there is a lot of technique and smarts that goes into winning.

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Entertainment Business / MMA / Ratings / UFC

UFC Expects Multiple Bidders For Media Rights In 2018

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.

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Entertainment Business / UFC

WWE Providing Guide To UFC Expansion In China

Breaking into the Asian market has been a holy grail for many sports organizations.  Collegiate football games have been held in China, boxing matches held in Macau, and some of the best NBA players make yearly trips.  For the UFC, a solid footing in countries like China could elevate the UFC to a level that just ten years ago would have seemed beyond optimistic.  The WWE is currently blazing a trail into China and given the similarities between the UFC and the WWE, the professional wrestling organization might be making a blueprint for the professional mixed martial arts company.

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Entertainment Business / UFC

Nate and Nick Diaz Tape Show With Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain is a famous chef who travels the world showing the different foods of the world.  He has run shows such as “No Reservations” and “Parts Unknown.”  He has appeared on the Travel Channel, CNN, and others.  Anthony Bourdain tweeted out a photo of himself with Nate and Nick Diaz while they were taping for a new episode of “Parts Unknown.”

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Entertainment Business / UFC

Celebrities Invested In The UFC

WME-IMG hoped to self-finance the transaction to obtain the UFC from Zuffa and some of the investors are well-known celebrities.  When negotiations to buy the UFC were ongoing there were reports that the Kraft Group, run by Robert Kraft who also owns the New England Patriots, and other famous individuals including those represented by Ari Emanuel were willing to invest in the venture.

The celebrities invested in the UFC are:

Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, Adam Levine, Anthony Kiedis, Ben Affleck, Calvin Harris, Cam Newton, Conan O’Brien, Flea, Guy Fieri, Jimmy Kimmel, Li Na, LL COOL J, Maria Sharapova, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Bay, Rob Dyrdek, Robert Kraft, Serena Williams, Sylvester Stallone, Tom Brady, Trey Parker, Tyler Perry and Venus Williams are the latest to join UFC’s ownership group. In July 2016, global entertainment and sports leader WME | IMG – joined by Silver Lake Partners, KKR, MSD Capital, L.P. and MSD Partners, L.P. – announced it would acquire UFC®, the world’s premier professional mixed martial arts (MMA) organization.

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Entertainment Business / Ratings

Disney Invests In BamTech Streaming

Bamtech is Major League Baseball’s fastest-growing streaming division and Disney has just purchased a 33% stake in the company for $1 billion with the option to purchase a majority stake in the company in the future.  The investment is a direct response to the viewers that ESPN and cable television as a whole are losing a significant amount of users every day.  Disney will be developing an over the top streaming service for ESPN that will debut by the end of the year.

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Entertainment Business / UFC

WME-IMG & UFC Betting Against Sports TV Rights Trend

When the WME-IMG paid $4 billion for the UFC they are making multiple bets on the future.  First, they are betting that they can market athletes so the revenue stream on a per athlete basis boosts the income of WME agents.  Second, that IMG can coordinate huge sponsorship agreements between corporations and the UFC.  Third, that the volatility in the industry between an inconsistent schedule and looming legal battles will work in the UFC’s favor.  Lastly, and probably most importantly, that when the UFC and FOX reach an agreement on a new television rights deal in 2019 will earn the UFC $400 million annually.

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