The UFC is looking to cash in huge on the television rights renewal deal in early 2018, but it looks like it won’t be with FOX if they do.
With the promotion supposedly seeking a lofty $450 million for their TV deal in 2018, FOX has reportedly offered the world’s foremost MMA promotion a deal worth less than half of that at $200 million according to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal (via Darren Rovell of ESPN):
Can confirm Fox initial offer for UFC rights in the $200M range, as first reported by @Ourand_SBJ.
UFC sale document said rights were worth as much as $450M. Don't believe WME/IMG ever thought that was realistic.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) November 27, 2017
If you’re saying $200 million is a huge number, you’re right – yet it’s hardly the bank-busting sum the UFC was hoping for when the company was sold recently, and not a number that will go too far in repaying some of the loans used to buy it.
With pay-per-view broadcasts still the main vehicle for major UFC events, FOX has owned the television rights to broadcast the UFC since 2011, leading to several criticisms like sheer oversaturation. Their previous deal was worth roughly $100 million per year and resulted in a deluge of UFC -related content aired on FOX, FOX Sports 1, and FX to a lesser extent.
According to Rovell, the UFC had an exclusive negotiating period with FOX that ended nearly two months ago, and this offer below the UFC’s lofty asking price came after that.
If the promotion, which was sold to Endeavor (formerly WME-IMG) for a then-record $4.2 billion in 2016, chooses not to re-sign with FOX, a host of other platforms such as Google, Amazon and even SHOWTIME has been teased as a possible landing spot. However, after UFC pay-per-view sales and overall numbers tanked during a 2017 largely devoid of major stars, this wasn’t the anticipation the new owners were looking for with their first TV deal, and much of that can be attributed to them hitching their wagon to one star – Conor McGregor – who didn’t even fight in the Octagon in 2017.