Dana White Rejected Major HBO And CBS Deals To Protect The UFC’s Brand

Dana White recalled turning down big HBO and CBS deals for the UFC to keep the brand intact. 

The UFC’s 2018 ESPN deal expires next year, leaving the UFC open to other offers. The current ESPN deal is worth $1.5 billion, allowing the network to exclusively show UFC and PPV fights. There are several other platforms the UFC could consider. Amazon Prime Video has ventured into combat sports following their boxing deal with PBC.

Meanwhile, the WWE’s deal with Netflix to air Monday Night Raw for the next ten years in a $5 billion deal is also an option. While there will be plenty of offers for the UFC, White is not just concerned about money. Any deal must fit the UFC’s ethos. White mentioned turning down HBO due to differences over their production. Meanwhile, a heated conference call with CBS over an offer to buy the UFC meant that the deal did not go ahead, as Endeavor bought it instead. 

“I don’t know if you know that, we did a deal with HBO. We were going to put fights on HBO. HBO came in and started going, ‘Yeah, we’re going to have to turn this music down, this is going to have to’ — and I said, ‘No, no. You guys are not running our production and telling us what to do.’ We had already signed the deal. We were done. So I literally called [former UFC CEO] Lorenzo [Fertitta] and said, ‘Yeah, we can’t do this deal.’ He’s like, ‘What do you mean we can’t do this deal? The deal is done. We have a deal.’ [I said,] ‘We’ve got to get out of this deal.’ And Ari [Emanuel] got us out of the HBO deal. I believe that if we had let HBO do what they wanted to do, it would’ve hurt us and hurt our brand,” White said

“So CBS tried to come in and make us an offer to buy us at one point, right? And I was in Hawaii on vacation. And ironically, I’m usually late to everything. I was on the call early and the Showtime guys were on the call early because they — I didn’t know they were going to be on. I thought we were talking to [former chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation] Les Moonves.

“So by the time Les Moonves and Lorenzo got on the phone, me and Showtime were fighting, going at it, literally, ‘Eff you, eff you,’ back and forth. And those guys got on and heard us going back and forth, and the call, literally, that was the end of it,” White stated

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