It’s no secret that while much of the world was struggling to stay afloat in 2020, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the UFC was thriving. Between the easy event hosting availability of the promotion’s Apex facility in Las Vegas, their lucrative ESPN broadcast deal, and a series of events on ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi – for which the promotion was not only reportedly hosted free of charge, but also compensated for lost ticket sales – the world’s largest MMA promotion headed into 2021 firing on all cylinders.
For more definitive evidence of their success, look no further than the most recent Endeavor quarterly earnings report, following the entertainment conglomerate’s decision to go public earlier this year. Deadline shared the details, noting that after posting losses of $51.3 million a year ago, the UFC parent company’s first earnings report of 2021 shows a profit of $2.4 million. That may not be a huge amount in the black, all things considered, but it’s a pretty big swing in revenue—much of which company president Mark Shapiro credited to the UFC.
“We believe that the pandemic actually helped accelerate UFC’s move into the mainstream,” Shapiro told reporters via conference call (as quoted by the Hollywood Reporter), noting that the promotion has become an “anchor tenant” of ESPN’s streaming platform.
Deadline reports that Endeavor’s sports properties showed the most growth over the past fiscal year, up 22% to $283.5 million in revenue. Those properties are led by the UFC, but also include Professional Bull Riding (PBR), both of which were among the fastest American sports to return to active competition in the midst of lockdown protocols.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, we are witnessing strong demand for all forms of content,” CEO Ariel Emanuel said during the call. “Our company was purpose-built to fulfill this demand on a global scale – be it live events and experiences or premium on-screen content. While our first quarter results were still negatively impacted by Covid-19, we are well positioned to benefit from the pent-up demand for content, while maintaining our long-term focus on secular trends and high-growth areas that have been both validated and amplified by the pandemic.”
With the UFC returning to live-gate PPV events this year, along with their already active Fight Night schedule, it seems likely that the promotion will only bring in more revenue as 2021 contineus. So far, their success has helped drive Endeavor share prices, from $24 at the time of their IPO, up to $29.39. All good news for Dana White & Co.
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