Hot off of WrestleMania, the world’s largest pro wrestling company is linking up with the world’s biggest mixed martial arts brand to bodyslam their way to bigger broadcast deals.
What happened: Endeavor, the company that owns the UFC, is acquiring the WWE for US$9.3 billion with plans to merge the brands—both of which feature showboating fighters beating each other into a bloody pulp—into a US$21 billion publicly-traded entity.
- After returning from a leave of absence stemming from accusations of sexual assault and misuse of company funds, WWE majority stakeholder Vince McMahon (pictured here looking like an old-timey villain) announced his intentions to sell the company.
Disney, Amazon, and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund were all reportedly interested, in buying the business (which did over $1 billion in revenue last year), but Endeavor won out.
Why it’s happening: Aside from maybe the final season of Succession, sporting events are basically the only TV events that people still feel they need to see live. By teaming up, the UFC and WWE are combining forces to drive bidding wars between traditional cable and Big Tech disruptors for the rights to broadcast their highly coveted entertainment products.
- “Must-watch TV is a rarity these days,” Mark Shapiro, Endeavor’s president, told The New York Times, “And unicorns like the UFC and WWE will be heavily in demand.”
Bottom line: Big mergers like this probably won’t be the future of sports (you couldn’t name two sports brands out there more synergistic than WWE and UFC), but moves that look to capitalize on ballooning broadcasting deals will be at the forefront for every league.