The television deal between Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and FOX is nearing its end and the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion may be in the market for another partner.
While FOX has handed UFC what many consider to be a lowball offer of $200 million per year, UFC desperately needs a larger payday if WME-IMG is going to close any ground on its $4.2 billion purchase of the MMA juggernaut last year. Luckily for UFC, a potential merger between AT&T and Time Warner could lead to a bigger piece of the pie.
According to a report by Sports Business Daily's John Ourand, Turner could become a major player in forming a new TV deal with UFC should the proposed merger finalize:
“I know Fox is the clear front-runner to retain this package. But I have an inkling that once the AT&T deal gains approval, Turner’s David Levy will sign a big-time media rights deal that would put the UFC on all AT&T platforms. Imagine UFC fights on truTV, pay-per-view cards on DirecTV, mobile programming on AT&T Wireless, and over-the-top rights on Turner’s planned sports service. A caveat: If the AT&T deal is rejected (or if it takes too long), the UFC will cut a deal with Fox for around $250 million that will see Fox give up shows like “Ultimate Fighter” that UFC will shop elsewhere. Amazon showed early interest in picking up a streaming package, but it ultimately will pass on a UFC deal.”
Considering the UFC’s global reach and consistent growth, a new TV deal is most certainly worth more than $200 million. But the MMA promotion has already began to scare some suitors away with a ridiculous $450 million per year asking price. The common ground between UFC and its next television partner probably lies somewhere in the middle of those two gaudy numbers.