Endeavor 'wants $450m a year' for new US UFC TV contract
UFC, the mixed martial arts series owned by Endeavor (formerly WME-IMG), the combined Hollywood talent agency and international sports and entertainment company, is seeking a new US TV rights deal worth $450 million a year, the US Sports Business Daily has reported.
The figure compares with just $90 million a year that Fox, the national TV network pays under the existing seven-year deal which expires next year.
Fox’s exclusive negotiating window to renew the deal expired last month, with the broadcaster only prepared to offer $200 million a year.
Turner Sports, the Time Warner-owned network, is reported to have shown initial interest in the contract, but its interest is said to have cooled as its parent company prepares to battle a lawsuit from the US Department of Justice opposing its planned takeover by AT&T, the telecoms giant.
The lawsuit claims that the merger, one of the largest media deals ever announced, would reduce competition and lead to higher consumer prices.
Endeavor is also said to have held talks with Amazon, the online retail giant, amid widespread scepticism over its chances of reaching its financial target through a single exclusive US broadcast deal.
Moreover, Endeavor could seek to save costs by handing over production to its new broadcast partner. Until now, UFC has handled its own production.
Dana White, UFC’s president, recently insisted that it would reach an agreement on a new deal with its superstar athlete Conor McGregor (pictured).
McGregor has not contested a UFC bout since November 2016, but recently took to the boxing ring to compete in a high-profile fight against multiple world champion Floyd Mayweather.
The Irishman told reporters that he wanted UFC to make an attractive offer after his “billion-dollar fight” with Mayweather, which the US boxer won.
It is not the first time McGregor has called on UFC to provide him with a more lucrative deal.
Last December, following the $4-billion acquisition of UFC by Endeavor, McGregor revealed that he had requested a meeting with the company’s co-chief executives Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell.
McGregor, arguably UFC’s biggest star, helped the promoter achieve record sales in 2015, and he himself accounted for over a quarter of the pay-per-view revenues from just two fights.
McGregor attracted just over 2 million PPV buys for the pair of events he headlined in 2015, according to the figures, which were prepared in July 2016, ahead of WME-IMG finalising its acquisition.
In the absence of McGregor, UFC’s best-selling PPV event has been UFC 214 in July of this year, which attracted 860,000 buys.