WWE and UFC Are Merging in New Company from Endeavor
On Monday, April 3, Endeavor Group Holdings announced its acquisition of WWE. Endeavor will create a new publicly traded company with WWE that will combine the wrestling group with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
The deal is estimated to be worth $9.3 billion and will bring together two of the most popular sports entertainment companies. With the power of Endeavor behind them, the groups aim to negotiate media rights deals and capitalize on their sports and athletes’ popularity.
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Endeavor is well known for its talent agency business—William Morris Endeavor (WME)—and for its ownership of the UFC. Already one of the largest talent agencies in the world, the company has been growing in content ownership and pushing into media rights, syndication, and partnerships.
The WWE endured a rough couple of years following reported “hush money” payments by CEO and chairman Vince McMahon. Stephanie McMahon, Vince McMahon’s daughter, later replaced him as chairwoman. However, McMahon returned to the WWE in January to negotiate media rights before assuming the executive chairmanship of the company.
What will the combined UFC-WWE company be?
Endeavor confirmed that WWE would be combined with UFC in its merger announcement. While the organizations are different, the deal brings together two of the biggest sports entertainment brands with built-in audiences and the ability to expand their footprint.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring together two leading pureplay sports and entertainment companies that operate in the most attractive parts of the media ecosystem,” Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel said during the investor presentation.
The deal comes as WWE and UFC are negotiating media deals and looking to streaming. Currently, WWE airs on Peacock while UFC is on ESPN+.
The acquisition is expected to close in the second half of 2023 and will give Endeavor a majority share with a controlling interest in the company. Ari Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor, will be CEO of the combined WWE-UFC company, while McMahon will continue as executive chairman. Nick Khan will remain as president of WWE, similar to Dana White’s role as president of the UFC.
With its expertise in media rights and live events, Endeavor can grow the revenues of WWE and UFC as their media rights come up for reveal. Last year, Endeavor grew UFC’s revenue by 20% year-over-year to $1.3 billion, and with streaming networks looking at live sports content, Endeavor could grow both UFC and WWE exponentially in the coming years.
“We have a track record of success with media rights,” Emanuel said. “WWE has similar scale to UFC. In the universe of assets at this scale, the opportunity is rare and finite.”
The newly formed, publicly traded company will have the ticker symbol “TKO”—short for “technical knockout.”