Night Light | WME TKOs WWE, UFC

If you’ve been following the news in recent weeks, you’ll know that WWE and UFC merged to form a single collective entity, TKO. It’s an interesting move as, in my opinion, it represents the biggest merger of two competing U.S. sports entities since the ABA and NBA merged into one league in the 70s. I think there are many interesting parallels between the way I see this playing out and the way that digital distribution has prospered in recent years.

The immediate thought that comes to mind is that this really is a talent-first transaction. Even more so than other sports and leagues, fighting has always featured the talent and characters as the central point of differentiation. Much like the way that YouTube collectives have built into new audiences by collaborating on content over the years, TKO can tap into these personalities to build new storylines that previously wouldn’t have been possible. These partnerships will bring new fans from either side of the divide, and should lead to massive organic growth for the platform.

I think TKO could benefit from thinking more deeply about the way their product is distributed with a transition to digital in mind. Long-form YouTube and short-form content represent two of the best ways for fans to see their favorite athletes in an unfiltered way, with behind the scenes content being produced by people in all sports. While pay-per-view still makes sense as the dominant form of distribution, I think moving robustly into digital will help them build narratives and gain fans.

In an industry where the biggest event with the most talent often wins out (see: Sidemen Charity Match), TKO will thrive. Smart move for both sides, and talent from each organization should benefit massively.

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