When Endeavor (WME-IMG) purchased the UFC, a big part of their financial gamble to spend $4 billion was based on a new television deal starting in 2019 that would net them hundreds of millions per year.
In fact in the prospectus to investors, a figure was tossed around that the new television deal could be worth $450 million per year — a massive increase of the average $115 million per year currently paid to the UFC by FOX.
While negotiations for the new UFC television deal will likely bleed well into 2018, the standard networks may not be the only powerhouse bidding to land the mixed martial arts promotion.
Speculation around the television industry continues to churn that streaming services such as Amazon, Facebook, or possibly even Apple may make a bid to land the UFC.
According to UFC president Dana White, he seems to agree with that idea as he believes that streaming services called OTT (over the top content) are the future of television and the UFC would be wise to look towards that platform as this new TV deal comes together.
“Now with technology, we’re getting to the point that I always dreamed about,” White said when speaking to the “Unnamed Podvideocast. “I always used to say, we’ll take this thing all around the world, build a fan base, 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…on an OTT type platform.”
White didn’t go as far as naming any streaming services who might be interested in poaching the UFC away from a broadcast network like FOX, but there are plenty of potential suitors.
White commented about how his own children digest television content these days through their phones or strictly by streaming online through a service such as Netflix.
That’s a big part of the reason why White feels like the UFC landing with a streaming service now would beat everybody to the punch while networks such as ESPN are scrambling to stay above water while losing subscribers at a record pace.
“Absolutely. That stuff’s all about to change,” White said when asked if the UFC could land on a streaming service. “When I grew up we had channel 3, channel 5, channel 8 and channel 13 and then the channel “Sesame Street” was on. Those are all the channels that we had. Now what’s crazy about television these days, I have DirecTV and I have cable, so I have 2,000 channels and nothing’s on. I think that we have the type of content that people will watch. Every once in a while, not every fight that I put on is a mega-fight and a fight that spills over into the mainstream but I’ll get those twice a year.
“There’s no doubt that the internet and OTT is where it’s all going. It will be interesting to see when the smoke clears who’s still around and who’s not.”