In a new interview Endeavor president Mark Shapiro indicated that while they are happy with the UFC’s current TV deal with ESPN, the promotion’s next TV deal could potentially span across multiple networks in order to maximise their earnings.
“We have been very happy being with one platform [at ESPN], which is [owned by] the Walt Disney Company,” Shapiro said at the J.P.Morgan global technology, media, and communications conference. “They’ve been incredible to UFC and we’ve been incredible to them. When they need something, Dana White makes it happen in two seconds, and when we need something, they work with us across the globe, now that they obviously now have more of an international footprint given the FOX acquisition than any other partner we’ve ever been involved with. So it’s a great story.
“But your goal is to maximize price, let’s be clear about that. In any renegotiation that Nick Khan is doing in WWE, his goal is to maximize price. Our goal with UFC is to maximize price.”
Shapiro went on to give the example of how the NBA and NFL are both eagerly pursuing multiple broadcast partners for their content and are making it work for them.
“Of course, partner is important,” Shapiro said. “Of course, platform is important. Of course, where you put your brand so it’s seen by as many fans as possible is important. But price is first.
“If that means you’re going to divide up into two partners like the NBA has now, or four like they reportedly might have in the future, you make it work. You figure it out.
“…The NFL is the role model for that,” Shapiro continued. “They haven’t hurt whatsoever — FOX, CBS, NBC, ESPN. And I heard those cries when I was at ESPN, ‘Oh, they can’t go to NBC. Oh, they can’t add a Thursday night [game]. Oh, they’re diluting. Oh, there’s too many partners, Oh, they can’t promote each other. Oh, they hate each other. It’s not one ecosystem.’
“Well, they made it work for one ecosystem and their viewership has never been stronger.”
Despite all this it’s worth remembering that the UFC’s current seven-year deal with ESPN doesn’t expire until 2025.