WWE-IMG Unlikely to Cut-Back on UFC Events in 2017

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Will 2017 see less UFC events?

When the UFC’s new owners WME-IMG began laying off employees in mass back in October, some speculated it could be a hint that the UFC is reducing the number of live events.

WWE-IMG Unlikely to Cut-Back on UFC Events in 2017

A lot of fans and experts seem to feel that having so many events reduces the quality of fights. The UFC has averaged close to 45 shows a year (since 2012) which almost amounts to a card per week.

Some believe with well over 500 fighters on the roster, spreading the talent so far out takes away from events.

So when rumors started that the UFC could be trimming the amount of live shows as well as the roster, many fans approved of the idea.

Unfortunately (if you feel that way,) it just doesn’t seem to be the case.

Remember, the UFC signed a 7-year deal with FOX in 2011. The deal runs from 2012-2018.

So far every year since 2012, the UFC has run at least 18 shows per year on FOX, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, FUEL TV, or FX. When broadcasting deals are made of this magnitude a schedule is more than certainly set in place.

FOX just doesn’t wait for the UFC to schedule an event and decide which network to broadcast it on. They have dates in place that the UFC has to plan events for.

The UFC already has six events planned for Fox Sports next year from January 1 to March 11. Last year in the same time span, they did 4 events. They’re on the same pace as they were in 2016 and the years before.

Even if WME-IMG wants to do less shows, they’re likely contractually obligated to give FOX at least 18 events a year if not more.
The counter here would be, well why doesn’t the UFC do less PPV events?

They’re also contractually bound to Joe Hand Promotions (their PPV distributor.) They just signed a contract extension with them earlier this year in what was described as a “multi-year deal.

Since 2008, the UFC has averaged 13.5 PPV’s per year. So why would they do less PPV shows?

Interestingly the deal was signed just before UFC 200. Around this time it was already knowledge that the Fertitta’s were selling to WME-IMG although it just wasn’t official.

Deals like this don’t just get signed when a company is selling without the new owners being involved.

The UFC already has 2 PPV scheduled for next year, one in February and the other in March. They also postponed a PPV in January to August.

As you can see, there is a pattern here; one PPV per month is the likely and has been the plan. The only evidence that would suggest a shortage in PPV’s is Super Bowl weekend.

They have historically held a PPV on Super Bowl weekend every year since 2004. This year a Fox Sports 1 card will take place on Super Bowl weekend instead of a PPV.

But still the evidence is overwhelming that the UFC will plan a PPV show per month. They already have February, March, and August (formally January) planned. They’ll certainly have a PPV on Memorial day weekend in May, and they always have a big PPV show on July 4th.

The UFC isn’t abandoning PPV, especially after this year where they could hit 10 million PPV buys. That’s essentially $300 million in PPV revenue.

That doesn’t include live gate totals, international TV revenue, restaurant/bar revenue, merchandise, and other nuances.
On top of that, they’re getting $110 million annually from FOX.

The new owners spent $4.2 billion on the UFC. They’re not going to do less live events, they’re probably going to do more. Expect them to expand content on Fight Pass in 2017 as well, which is another major revenue source.

All signs point to the UFC doing the same amount of live shows in 2017.


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