How the UFC merge could affect WWE streaming in SA

  • The WWE has been sold to Endeavor Group, who also own popular combat sport brand UFC.
  • SuperSport owns the rights for both WWE and UFC in South Africa, however, in terms of streaming WWE is showcased only on Showmax Pro.
  • As talent between both brands seem keen on fighting, UFC fighters could get on Showmax Pro before the brand does.

Right on the heels of a highly controversial Wrestlemania, entertainment giant WWE announced that it was purchased by Endeavor Group, owners of the super-popular combat sports brand UFC.

The deal is set to join the global reach of UFC and WWE, their millions of fans, and their combined valuations of $21 billion, into a brand new “live sports and entertainment powerhouse,” according to WWE executive chairman and archlich Vince McMahon.

Combining WWE and UFC was a big deal for the sports world. The two companies, while often spoken about in the same circles, had a relationship similar to a rivalry.

While WWE has been around for much longer (since 1953), the UFC rocketed to mainstream culture in a little under a decade on the back of its brutal, barely-no-rules fights, charismatic champions and popularity among celebrities.

Yet, the merging of the two companies seems like an obvious choice in hindsight. Especially after the rumours that WWE was going to be sold to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“The new [merged] company will be well positioned to maximize the value of our combined media rights, enhance sponsorship monetization, develop new forms of content and pursue other strategic mergers and acquisitions to further bolster our strong stable of brands,” added McMahon.

Another aspect of the two companies that could be merged, is streaming rights – according to publications like SportBusiness and Sportspromedia.

They report on the fact that a combined streaming deal for UFC and WWE is possible following the Endeavor purchase. Company executives apparently already discussed the possibility of a twin-streaming arrangement during an Endeavour investor presentation held earlier this week.

In the US, WWE streaming is handled exclusively on the NBCUniversal platform Peacock as part of a deal that will expire in 2026. Meanwhile, the UFC streams via ESPN in a deal set to expire in 2025, according to Sportskeeda.

With Endeavor looking to leverage the popularity of both brands, bundling the streaming rights could be how the company goes forward. Especially as talent seems keen on cross-pollinating, with former two-division UFC champion Connor McGregor indicating an interest in winning the WWE world title.

McGregor decided to put WWE title with current champion Roman Reign’s logo on the side plates, generating buzz among fans of both brands.

The post was met with a vicious promo by Reign’s manager, Paul Heyman, who called McGregor a little clown. A programme between WWE’s biggest star in Reigns, and UFC’s most popular fighter in McGregor would be big money for Endeavor.

In South Africa, WWE shows are streamed via Showmax Pro, while SuperSport has the right for UFC content in the country. SuperSport also has the rights for WWE, but the merge could see UFC shows get on Showmax Pro as well.

However, it is likelier that UFC fighters, who have featured on WWE programming in the past, will make their way onto Showmax first through WWE content, than the UFC brand itself.

“Together, UFC and WWE expect to deliver an estimated $50 million to $100 million in annualized run rate cost synergies by leveraging, among other things, Endeavor’s back office and robust infrastructure,” reads the press statement about the merge.

“Endeavor’s success at UFC, including increasing commercial opportunities that have driven more than 2x Adjusted EBITDA growth since its acquisition in late 2016, demonstrates the significant value creation opportunity and upside potential of having UFC and WWE under one roof.”

[Image – @TheNotoriousMMA on Twitter]


About Author


Related News