Ring Of Sports Marketing

Posts tagged wme-img


FOX Offers $200M To UFC For Media Rights

Negotiations for the UFC media rights are underway and the first offer from FOX is well below what WME-IMG valued them at.  WME-IMG CEO Ari Emanuel was one of the key negotiators between FOX and UFC for the first media rights deal so he had a good idea going into this next negotiation window what the right value for the rights in 2018 should be.  However, the live sports media rights market has been cooling over the last few years as subscriptions to ESPN have decreased and people are regularly cutting the cord on their TV and going with streaming-only options.

The current agreement runs through 2018 and more offers will come in but the UFC will also be competing against other live sports options, like the WWE, which has good ratings and some overlap in demographics.  Companies like Amazon have also become a bigger player in live sports.  Amazon has media rights to the NFL and Jeff Bezos direction with the company is pointing towards creating new, exclusive streaming content that people will pay for, therefore becoming Amazon Prime members.

At the start of 2017 the media fees paid to the UFC will be $160 million, after being $115 million a year when the deal first began in 2011.

The media rights could also be for a digital only platform that Dana White has brought up recently.

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Sponsorships / UFC

UFC Signs First Official Airline Partner with AirAsia

The UFC has announced a new partnership with AirAsia.  The sponsorship agreement is for multiple territories, leaving open the possibility for other airline partnerships in different parts of the world.  AirAsia will do their first activation on November 25th when the UFC has their first event on mainland China.

AirAsia was founded in 1996 and is a low-cost carrier based in Malaysia.

UFC Vice President of Asia-Pacific Kevin Chang said in the press release:

“This deal is an indication of how much UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts have grown in Asia and around the world… AirAsia is an innovative and fast-growing brand, we thank them for the support and we’re looking forward to creating engaging branded content for fight fans and AirAsia customers to enjoy.”

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ESPN and Top Rank Boxing Sign 4-Year, Exclusive Deal

The month of August leading up to the Mayweather-McGregor fight saw some of the premier fighters in the sport fight on ESPN.  Manny Pacquiao fought Jeff Horn, Vasyl Lomachenko fought Miguel Marriaga, and Terence Crawford fought Julius Indongo.  Those fights now serve as the introduction to Top Rank on ESPN as the two companies enter into an exclusive 4-year agreement.

HBO and Showtime have dominated boxing broadcasting over the last twenty years.  This is the first time ESPN has made itself a major player in boxing.  According to Dan Rafael at ESPN, there are already 18 cards available for broadcast during the first year of the deal.

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Boxing / MMA / Sponsorships

Title Sponsorship For Mayweather-McGregor set at $10M

The logo that you see at the middle of the ring when Mayweather and McGregor walk to the center for round 1 of their mega-fight will cost $10 million.  According to Dan Rafael at ESPN, the ownership company of the UFC, WME-IMG, sent out proposals for the title sponsorship to possible corporate sponsors.  The asking price for the Mayweather-McGregor title sponsorship is nearly double that of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, which was sold to Tecate for $5.6 million.

From Rafael’s article:

The sponsoring company would get its logo at the center of the ring at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena, its branding on ring girls, on two of the ropes and in the two nonfighter corners of the ring. The deal also includes sponsorship of the first minute of every round on the broadcast and $500,000 in tickets.

Relative to other ad deals, Goodyear will pay the Cavaliers $7 million to $10 million in each of the next three seasons to have its 2½-inch-by-2½-inch logo patch on the team’s jerseys.

It is important to note that the title sponsorships are only for the neutral corners.  Mayweather and McGregor can each sell their corner for $2.5 million.  A fighter’s sponsor would get $250,000 in tickets as well as sponsorship on the broadcast corner cam.

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International Business / MMA / UFC

UFC Signs New TV Deal in Russia

The UFC has partnered with Match TV in Russia to air UFC programs in the country.  At multiple points the deal looked like it would end without an agreement between the UFC and Match TV.  The previous UFC owners had an agreement nearly finalized for $500,000 to be paid annually for the program licensing.  However, once WME-IMG became the owners the annual fee increased substantially.  When WME-IMG looked to Russia to increase profits they sold the TV rights to Telesport.  Telesport became the mediator between Match TV and the UFC that led to the agreement.

CEO of Match TV Tina Kandelaki said:

“The negotiation process was difficult, and we are grateful to our partners for their mutual interest in staging UFC broadcasts in 2017. We are seeing increased attention for this tournament, not only in the media, but also among viewers… We are confident that all broadcasts will bring great pleasure and enhance sports viewership. We believe that the start of the season with the fight of Khabib Nurmagomedov will lead to even greater increase in the audience to the sport.”

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George St-Pierre To Fight Michael Bisping For UFC Middleweight Championship

UFC great George St-Pierre (GSP) is coming out of retirement to fight Michael Bisping at UFC 209.  St-Pierre has been retired from the UFC since November of 2013 and in his first fight back gets a title shot in the middleweight division.  George St-Pierre has fought nearly all of his fights at the welterweight limit of 170 pounds.  This will be St-Pierre’s first UFC fight at the middleweight limit of 185 pounds.  Michael Bisping is coming off his first successful title defense in the UFC with a unanimous decision win over Dan Henderson at UFC 204.  Bisping accepted this fight largely based on the pay that would come with it.

According to Chad Dundas at Bleacher Report:

Well, what he gets in his return to the Octagon after a three-year absence is a potentially winnable championship fight, a nice payday and a chance at the history books.

If St-Pierre is able to return to action at nearly 36 years old and win another UFC title in a weight class above his natural division, there will simply be no argument against anointing him the greatest MMA fighter of all time.

Even though George St-Pierre is from Canada, which has been a growing hotbed of MMA fans, the fight will most likely take place in Las Vegas, Nevada at the T-Mobile Arena during the beginning of July.

Ringside Analysis:

The matchup for George St-Pierre’s return has been polarizing.  Some argue that the addition of GSP back into the UFC at the  middleweight division is happening mostly because of the short-term payoff that will come from it.  The middleweight division is currently one of the most exciting in the UFC and it is unusual for a fighter who is coming out of a three year retirement would get an immediate title shot.  St-Pierre allegedly requested that he fight Bisping in his first fight back and that may have been one of the tipping points that brought GSP back to the company.

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More Than 500 UFC Fighters Will Visit Las Vegas in May For “Athlete Retreat”

All UFC fighters, more than 500, have been invited to a UFC Athlete Retreat.  The two-day event is is the first since the UFC was sold by Zuffa to WME-IMG last July for $4 billion.

From the article by Kevin Iole at Yahoo:

Emm]anuel and Whitesell are big on integrating their clients from their various sports to create opportunities for everyone, and the retreat will mark the start of that for the UFC fighters.

Athletes, musicians, actors/actresses and celebrities from many different genres who are represented by WME/IMG will appear at the retreat and will either offer presentations or be available to the fighters to ask questions.

The retreat will also feature UFC VP of Athlete Performance Forrest Griffin unveiling the new UFC Performance Institute.  Topics Griffin will cover include recovery, training, and how to safely make weight.

This is the last year the the UFC fighter summit will be held with the athlete retreat taking its place from now on.

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MMA / Sports Law

MMAAA Enters Fighter Unification Efforts But Raises Questions

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Making History

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The Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association (MMAAA) has announced its entrance into the efforts to unionize UFC fighters.  The association is led by fighters Georges St.-Pierre, Tim Kennedy, Cain Velasquez, Donald Cerrone, and TJ Dillashaw with former Bellator owner Bjorn Rebney in an advisory capacity.

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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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