UFC produced record revenue at $1.3 billion in 2023, live events and sponsorship revenues skyrocket

The UFC produced record revenues in 2023 as the full-year financial report from the company showed huge growth in live events and sponsorship for the year.

As part of a year-end financial disclosure along with results from the fourth quarter of 2023, TKO Group Holdings — the parent company to UFC and WWE — reported huge gains for the MMA promotion for the entire year.

Overall, the UFC produced $1.3 billion revenue — a 13-percent increase from 2022. The UFC earned $282.8 million in revenue for the fourth quarter, which is up from $271.7 million during the same time in 2022. The jump in revenue was thanks to a $76.2 million increase in media rights and content fees, a $42.6 million increase in live events revenue and a $29.5 million increase in sponsorship revenue.

One of the biggest increases for the UFC came from live event revenue, which skyrocketed up 34 percent to a record $168 million in 2023 over 43 events in the year. The increases were driven by ticket revenues and site fees.

The UFC also saw another record year in sponsorships with revenue increasing by 18 percent to $196 million. Sponsorships will likely see another jump in 2024 after the UFC inked a lucrative multi-year deal with Bud Light to become the official beer of the promotion.

Of course media rights and content still drive the biggest revenue with $870.6 million for the year based on broadcast deals such as the UFC’s partnership with ESPN. That’s up from $794.4 million in 2022.

“TKO is off to a strong start following record financial performance in 2023 at both UFC and WWE,” TKO CEO Ari Emanuel 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.

“We have more conviction than ever in the combination of these businesses and TKO’s ability to drive topline growth and margin expansion, generate meaningful free cash flow, and deliver sustainable long-term value for shareholders.”

Looking ahead for 2024, TKO is targeting revenue for the year at $2.575 and $2.65 billion for the combined companies at UFC and WWE.

As Emanuel mentioned in his remarks, WWE inked a massive 10-year, $5 billion deal to take WWE Raw to Netflix starting in 2025 after signing a separate broadcast deal to move Smackdown to the USA Network. Next up will be the UFC with negotiations starting on a new broadcast rights deal later this year with the current contract with ESPN coming to an end in 2025.

Many believe the UFC could be looking for a deal worth double the current contract with numbers hitting $3 billion or more over the life of the contract. Of course, the UFC also faces turmoil in 2024 with an April 15 start date for the class action antitrust lawsuit filed by several ex-fighters seeking damages between $894 million and $1.6 billion.

WWE also dealt with controversy at the end of 2023 after a lawsuit was filed against company founder Vince McMahon with disturbing allegations of sexual assault and abuse, which eventually led to him resigning from the company after previously serving as the executive chairman over TKO. McMahon still remains a sizable stockholder in TKO, although he sold off $700 million worth of his holdings in the company last year.

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