Ari Emanuel Promises ‘Aggressive’ Expansion into Nonscripted After Endeavor Content Sale

Ari Emanuel 48th Anniversary Gala Vanguard Awards, Show, Los Angeles, USA - 23 Sep 2017
Stewart Cook/Variety/Shutterstoc

Endeavor has no plans to exit the content creation business once it completes the required sale of its production unit.

Mandated by the franchise agreement the company signed with the Writers Guild of America in February, the forthcoming sale of Endeavor Content will see Ari Emanuel’s shop part with 80% of its interests in making scripted film and television. But, Emanuel noted, unscripted content is still in play.

“We’ll still have 20% of the restricted business, and nonscripted we will grow significantly. We think its a huge grower on a global scale. It’ll also be local, U.S. domestic.  We will move into that space pretty aggressively,” said Emanuel, speaking at Tuesday’s Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference.

Variety reported last week that Endeavor was seeking a minimum of $500 million for Endeavor Content from a mix of strategic buyers. At the conference, Emanuel said an ideal model for their sale ambitions was Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, which recently sold for over $900 million to the new media venture from Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs backed by Blackstone Captial.

While sales agents and other advisory roles from Endeavor Content have already begun moving back into Endeavor’s talent agency WME, Emanuel did not elaborate on where a proposed unscripted unit would live in his portfolio.

In addition to the sales talks, Variety also reported that many in the industry had been impressed with the restraint exhibited by the notoriously hot-headed agent as he transitions to CEO of a publicly traded company.

Anyone listening to the Communacopia conference, however, got a little taste of the Emanuel brand of charm. In discussing Endeavor’s other major revenue driver Ultimate Fighting Championship, the moderator noted that the margin profile on UFC was “so damn high,” and continued to be a point of discussion by Goldman Sachs clients.

“I can’t win with you!” Emanuel said excitedly. “Either the margins are low, or if I’m doing great, it’s too high!”

Emanuel elaborated that his team sees areas like media rights and sponsorship as margin growth areas for the sport, and also noted that fighter pay for UFC athletes is up 600% since 2005.

“They just did a recent study of top paying athletes. The number one athlete was a UFC fighter. They’re making money on fight kits, paid marketing opportunities we’re creating for them with our sponsors, revenue for NFTs, and we’re investing money in a performance institute to rehabilitate them, [focus on their] diet, etc,” he said.