Last weekend’s UFC Busan was the company’s final event of 2019, and with their schedule complete for the year, Dana White took to social media to talk about their numbers. According to the UFC President, 2019 was their “biggest year” to date.
White didn’t specify which category they broke records in, but it’s most likely not in terms of pay-per-view buys, but from total revenue and EBITDA. While outside estimates on PPV numbers are hard to come by these days — thanks to them now handling all of that through ESPN+ — they reportedly had a pretty down year in that one metric.
That being said, it is those very same new deals with ESPN+ and ESPN that likely carried those record breaking numbers that White alluded to. Instead of a previous 50-50 split with PPV providers, they’ve now been getting guaranteed money from ESPN per event. This means the UFC doesn’t need to rely as much on massive PPV numbers anymore to make bank.
Bloody Elbow’s business analyst John Nash explains it:
“I have no reason to doubt that Dana White is correct and this was indeed the “biggest year in the company’s history” for revenue and EBITDA.
“According to the various projections made by the company back in 2016, the total revenue in 2019 would be anywhere from $980 million to $1.1 billion and their EBITDA margins would be 50%. While I do not think they did that well, the new ESPN deal had added hundreds of millions to their guaranteed contractual revenue. Add in new international tv deals and increased sponsorship revenue and it’s hard to see how they don’t break the record. At least $800 million in revenue seem almost guaranteed.
“According to Reuters, UFC’s EBITDA to debt leverage was supposedly in the high 6xs. If the ratio is 6.8x, then with a current debt of $2.34 billion their EBITDA would be approximately $344 million.”
As White mentioned, the UFC is also likely to keep “kicking ass” in 2020, as they are set to start the year with a bang. They’ll have their biggest draw in Conor McGregor return on their very first show at UFC 246, and the event will also coincide with a slight increase in PPV price.
The UFC’s revenue have been increasing steadily the last couple of years, and the company has been very successful financially. Hopefully though, the fighter’s wage share also follows suit and increases eventually from the projected 20% cut they’re giving.