2015 was a massive year for the UFC, and according to UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, it was their biggest year ever.
In an interview with CNN this week, Fertitta revealed that the UFC brought in over $600 million in revenue over the course of the year, surpassing all previous records on that front.
“We’ll generate about $600 million in revenue for the year 2015, which is a record for the company and it’s a fairly significant growth coming off 2014,” Fertitta said (transcribed by MMAMania.com). “The exciting part of the platform that we’ve built is that we’ve been able to embrace different tiers of revenue. We have our basic pay-per-view business, that is our biggest source of revenue. Then we have our media rights, which is really similar to rights that we sell to Fox for all of the programming we give them. And then we have embraced the over-the-top platforms, where we launched UFC Fight Pass, which is a subscription service of $9.99 per month where you can access the entire UFC library and we also put live exclusive UFC events from around the world on that format, as well as original programming. So we really have those three sources of revenue to generate, three ways to monetize our contacts.”
Now, the UFC’s rise in revenue hasn’t exactly translated to raises across the board for their talent, and we’re seeing several fighters looking to test free agency rather than take offers from the UFC. However, Fertitta believes that’s how the market should play out, and once again defended the organization’s payscale.
“At the end of the day, it’s an absolute open market,” Fertitta said. “There are multiple bidders in the marketplace. In fact, our number one competitor is Bellator, which is owned by Viacom, which has significantly more resources than we do even though we are the leading brand in this space. The fact of the matter is, out top athletes are making mutli-millions of dollars. And what is happening is as the sport grows and compensation goes up and revenue goes up, you’re starting to see that the guys and girls at the top are commanding a larger share of that pie. I think you see that in every sport, every business. It’s the athletes who make a difference that people want to pay for that are commanding the big dollars.”
Penick’s Analysis: More and more fighters should be trying to get their piece of what’s coming in to the organization. We’ve got several fighters testing out their value on the market, and will likely get the raises they’re looking for. They need to be followed by others, and every fighter hoping to maximize their earnings should be trying to find out what they’re worth elsewhere. The UFC’s bringing the money in to pay more of their fighters more than they’re currently paying, and it seems as far as Fertitta is concerned, it’s incumbent upon the fighters themselves to get it.
[Photo (c) Jayne Kamin-Oncea via USA Today Sports]
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