Apparently Dana White was correct when he said that 2017 was the “best year by a long shot” for the UFC and their parent entity, ZUffa, LLC. According to a Moody’s Investors Service announcement from last month, UFC Holdings, LLC (the rated entity following the acquisition of Zuffa by Endeavor, Silver Lake Partners and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.) generated “well over $700 million” in revenues for the Last Twelve Months ending March 31 of this year.
While the fiscal year reported by Moody’s included the 1st quarter of 2018 and not the 1st quarter of 2017, that probably wouldn’t make much of a difference for 2017’s totals. According to Tapology’s PPV buy estimates, there was only a 250,000 buy difference between the two quarters.
The “well over $700 million” in revenues for 2017 would likely be a record, beating 2016’s total revenue which is thought to have surpassed $700 million. It would also be more than the total revenues generated in 2016, which, according to a July 22, 2016 UFC Lender Presentation, was $609 million.
Profits were not reported by Moody’s but Reuters reported in April of 2017 that Zuffa’s management was projecting that EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) would be $320 million that year. EBITDA was reported as being $226 million for 2016 and $192 million for 2016 (other sources, including the Lender Presentation, reported 2015’s EBITDA as $189 million).
The previous owners of the UFC, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, are thought to have received a $175 million earn out for the UFC achievement of a $275 million LTM (Last Twelve Months) EBITDA before the end of 2017. They can also expect to receive a second $75 million earn out at the end of this year if the UFC achieves a LTM EBITDA of $350 million.
Some may find it surprising that Zuffa did so well last year, considering their PPV sales were down dramatically from previous years. Total PPV sales for 2015 are estimated to have been 7.55 million buys and generated a reported $237 million in revenue. Last year’s PPV sales are estimated to have been a much more modest 4.142 million buys.
The UFC offset some of the decreased PPV revenue through increased contractual revenue. Contracted revenue in 2015 totaled $280 million. According to their Lender Presentation this was projected to increase by approximately $50 million for 2017. In addition they were expecting to cut an addition $55 million in expenses through cost saving measures.
One of biggest reasons for Zuffa’s success last year was surely their cut of the Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor boxing match. Using their Lender Presentation’s breakdown of 2015’s revenues, we can make a ballpark estimate that if their total revenues were $750 million last year than Mayweather-McGregor generated at around $180 million for Zuffa,
Moody’s also reported that the new ESPN media rights deal is a “material positive event, but will not impact the company’s B2 corporate family rating or stable outlook.” UFC currently has approximately $2 billion in debt: a $1.3 billion first lien term loan due 2023, a $500 million 2nd lien term loan due in 2024, and a $150 million revolving credit facility due 2021.