WME/IMG Acquires Mixed Martial Arts Group UFC
WME/IMG announced the acquisition of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) group UFC. WME/IMG, which builds sports brands, will focus on accelerating the sport’s popularity and presence around the world. Silver Lake Partners and KKR will join WME/IMG as new strategic investors, along with MSD Capital, L.P. and MSD Partners, L.P., which will provide preferred equity financing. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed in the statement from the companies. However, it is being reported as a $4 billion deal.
“We’ve been fortunate over the years to represent UFC and a number of its remarkable athletes,” said WME/IMG co-CEOs Ariel Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell. “It’s been exciting to watch the organization’s incredible growth over the last decade under the leadership of the Fertitta brothers, Dana White, and their dedicated team. We’re now committed to pursuing new opportunities for UFC and its talented athletes to ensure the sport’s continued growth and success on a global scale.”
Founded in 1993, UFC is one of the largest and fastest growing sports brands. The organization produces more than 40 live events annually and is the largest Pay-Per-View event provider in the world, broadcast in over 156 countries and territories, to nearly 1.1 billion television households worldwide, in 29 different languages. UFC continues to capitalize on digital distribution platforms via its wholly owned subscription, Fight Pass, delivering exclusive live events, thousands of fights on-demand, and original content to fans around the globe.
“No other sport compares to UFC,” said Dana White, UFC’s president who will continue in that role. “Our goal has always been to put on the biggest and the best fights for our fans, and to make this the biggest sport in the world. I’m looking forward to working with WME/IMG to continue to take this sport to the next level.”
TRU Launches its Own Cyber Event on “Prime Day”
Today (July 12) is Prime Day on Amazon.com, where the company tries to lure shoppers to sign up for its member’s-only service. In response, Toys “R” Us has launched its own Cyber Shopping Event today with no membership required. Today only, Toysrus.com and Babiesrus.com shoppers can receive 15 percent off regular-priced items, plus find more than 50,000 toys and baby products on sale sitewide. Toys “R” Us says that shoppers can also take advantage of the retailer’s every day free shipping on orders of $19 or more.
Target did not have any specific “Prime Day” promotions running on its site. Walmart.com continues to focus on its Rollbacks and free-shipping strategy with no minimum for the cart on many items.
Scholastic, American Girl in Global Publishing Deal
Scholastic and American Girl announced that it will launch an extensive publishing program based on the American Girl brand. The multi-year licensed agreement includes rights to publish books in print and digital formats starting in January 2017, and marks the first time American Girl has licensed the rights to publish books based on its characters. Under the agreement, Scholastic will publish and distribute books simultaneously in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia.
The wide-ranging list of titles and formats spans ages 5–12 and includes publishing for American Girl’s popular Girl of the Year line, including each character’s novels, as well as new formats for current and previously released Girl of the Year characters. American Girl is also partnering with Scholastic to release a non-fiction chapter book series inspired by the brand’s historical BeForever line, a new original series in middle grade, chapter book, and reader categories, various novelty formats including treasury books, guided journals, and American Girl-branded yearbooks featuring activities and quizzes.
American Girl launched in 1986 and is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel.
ToyFest West 2017 Dates Announced
The Western Toy and Hobby Representatives Association (WTHRA) announced that the 2017 show is set for March 5–7, 2017. Changes that were made to the 2016 show including shortening the show to three full days, initiating a raffle with cash prizes for orders written at the show, extending the Gala celebration to include dancing after the recognition of the Hall of Fame inductees and Retailer of the Year, and the digitizing of the Hall of Fame, resulted in a 30 percent increase in retail attendance, says WTHRA.
The 2017 show will remain at the South Point Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas.