It won’t be finalized until later this year. The new company doesn’t even have a name yet. But a lot of folks are already looking ahead to when Endeavor’s deal to acquire control of WWE, merge it with UFC, and spin them off as a new entity is done.
When everything is signed, sealed & approved, Endeavor President Mark Shapiro has a plan in place. Talking to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand, Shapiro said it’s the one he & the Endeavor team used when they bought UFC in 2016:
“We’re going to run the UFC playbook. The opportunity to put Vince McMahon’s creative head with [UFC President] Dana [White] and [Endeavor CEO] Ari [Emanuel] is going to create a significant amount of value for shareholders.”
The goal of that playbook is to triple the value of Endeavor’s investment, which is what the enterprise values cited in yesterday’s announcement say they’ve done with the mixed martial arts brand. Shapiro points to the fact 80% of WWE’s net revenue come from media, so he sees growth opportunities in sponsorship, licensing, hospitality & ticketing, aided by making WWE Superstars more marketable by leveraging Endeavor’s entertainment industry contacts & expertise.
“That’s the strategy. That’s how it has successfully played out for the UFC over the last six years. Remember when we bought it for $4.1 billion? People thought that price was crazy. Now, it is valued at $12.1 billion. I mean, what a story. We hope to do the same thing with the WWE.”
It’s hard to imagine more sponsorship than what we saw last weekend at WrestleMania 39, but okay.
The “UFC playbook” is also what Vince McMahon and Nick Khan say made Endeavor their buyer of choice for WWE. Both men said in interviews yesterday that they believe they could grow WWE to that level on their own, but it would take them 10 years.
Obviously the plan is for Endeavor to do that much quicker. We’ll see if they’re successful, and how that changes the product all of us are used to, after the deal is finalized.