UFC Revenue Rises 13% as TKO Sees Early Benefits of WWE Merger

Live events and sponsorship money powered UFC to a 13% rise in 2023 revenue of $1.3 billion, as parent TKO Group Holdings reported its first full quarter as owner of WWE.

TKO announced full-year results Tuesday evening of $1.7 billion, which consists of all of UFC’s year and WWE’s results from Sept. 12, the day wrestling giant WWE was merged with the mixed martial arts division to form TKO.

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“TKO is off to a strong start following record financial performance in 2023 at both UFC and WWE,” Ariel Emanuel, CEO of TKO, said in a statement. “We secured Anheuser-Busch as the official beer partner of UFC, delivered a transformative deal to bring WWE’s Raw to Netflix beginning in 2025 and expanded our international footprint in important growth markets.”

UFC’s events saw the biggest percentage rise in the year, leaping 34% to $168 million on better ticket sales and more robust site fees. Getting host cities to contribute to the cost of holding events has been a point of emphasis for the company in recent quarters. Sponsorship sales rose 18% to $196 million, while the bulk of the dollar rise in 2023 sales came from UFC’s media rights, its biggest revenue source, which rose 10% to $870.6 million for the year.

On the WWE side, TKO said the division generated total revenue of $331.2 million for the fourth quarter, about two-thirds of which comes from media rights. WWE average attendance jumped 34% in the fourth quarter while each premium event broadcast on Peacock set viewership records, with average viewership and hours watched rising 25% and 22%, respectively.

TKO hasn’t folded WWE’s pre-merger financials into its report for the year, so there is no official comparable financial period for WWE in Tuesday’s report. In the year before, as an independent business, WWE posted fourth quarter sales of $325.3 million, according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence. For full 2023, WWE appears to have modestly improved its sales to $1.32 billion, its first year with revenue over $1.3 billion, according to S&P.

For the current year, TKO says it expects a large increase in sales thanks to the inclusion of WWE for the whole period, with management initially projecting the full year will come in between $2.575 billion to $2.65 billion. In particular, international business is seen as strong, especially in Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.

While Tuesday’s earnings release didn’t discuss net gains or losses for the business, TKO did disclose profitability metrics it has emphasized as part of its belief the combination of UFC and WWE would be a strong cash generator. By its barometers, TKO appears to be on track, with management saying that it expects free cash flow conversion—basically all the money left after it pays its bills—should be more than 50% for 2024.

Free cash flow is a closely watched barometer on Wall Street of how profitable a core business is. Driving a lot of that are efficiencies being realized by the merger of UFC and WWE. In recent months, TKO management has said up to $100 million can be saved by the merger.

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