TKO merges UFC and WWE sponsorship teams into one entity
In September, UFC parent company Endeavor closed a deal that merged the UFC and WWE under one corporate entity, TKO Group Holdings, Inc. And while we won’t see Israel Adesanya in the WWE ring or Cody Rhodes stepping into the Octagon as a result, there’s a lot of action and changes going on behind the scenes.
Thus far it’s the WWE that’s been forced to deal with these changes. After Vince McMahon was blamed for TKO’s poor stock performance, the longtime wrestling magnate was forcibly removed from creative control of WWE’s television product by Endeavor head Ari Emanuel. Over a hundred WWE employees were laid off in September with more rounds of layoffs expected.
Now TKO is announcing that the UFC and TKO sponsorship teams are merging, with UFC’s Grant Norris-Jones taking over as top dog.
“Since Endeavor acquired UFC in 2016, UFC’s global partnerships business has become a significant growth area,” TKO’s CFO Andrew Schleimer said in a press release. “And we believe WWE’s partnerships business has similar potential. Together, UFC and WWE create a sports marketing powerhouse, with hundreds of live events per year and a reach that’s equal to, or better than, the world’s biggest sports properties.”
“The newly integrated global partnerships team will offer premium brands the opportunity to integrate and activate within UFC’s and WWE’s extraordinarily popular content to engage their massive fan bases around the world.”
Endeavor certainly put UFC’s sponsorship deal program on steroids. Long gone are the days of Condom Depot. Manscaped may still be around, but they’re shelling out ‘low seven figures annually’ for the privilege. Every year the UFC sponsorship team posts insane growth in the 20 – 30% range.
Meanwhile, the WWE has pulled some blue chip sponsors over the years but are kind of old-school with their deployment. Ol’ Vince has always considered the squared circle to be sacrosanct — no ads in the wrestling ring! We have a feeling that’s going to change pretty quickly as we start to see Endeavor’s (and the UFC’s) fingerprints over the WWE product in 2024.