The parent company of WWE and UFC is aiming to compete against the largest leagues and governing bodies anywhere, now having finished the commercial aspects of its $21.4 billion merger.
Nearly four months after coming into existence through the UFC-WWE merger, TKO Group Holdings has taken a major step to monetize the vision of the corporate union by creating a single global partnership unit, combining sponsorship sales for both the scripted WWE pro wrestling entity and the unscripted UFC mixed martial arts promotion.
Far from just an internal efficiency move, the restructuring is designed as positioning TKO toward landing large-scale deals that are typically the province of leading global entities such as the NFL, FIFA, and the IOC.
“Together, UFC and WWE create a sports marketing powerhouse, with hundreds of live events per year and a reach that’s equal to, or better than, the world’s biggest sports properties,” said Andrew Schleimer, TKO chief financial officer.
Time of Transition
The creation of the single TKO sales unit represents a point of strength in what has been several months of transition surrounding TKO and its majority owner, Endeavor Group Holdings. Since the September closing of the WWE-UFC merger, Endeavor has initiated a corporate review that could lead to that company again becoming a private entity amid a largely stagnant stock, and WWE founder Vince McMahon sold nearly $642 million worth of TKO shares in November.
Despite that, UFC and WWE continue to achieve their own successes within the TKO umbrella, including UFC finalizing plans for its first event at the Sphere in Las Vegas and striking a record-setting sponsorship deal with Bud Light, and WWE completing a rights agreement with the CW Network for its development circuit, and a separate, $1.4 billion rights pact with NBC for the U.S. rights to SmackDown.