Endeavor, the Hollywood entertainment colossus that owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship, is close to a deal that would combine that league with World Wrestling Entertainment, two people familiar with the negotiations said on Sunday. The combination would establish a behemoth in combat entertainment, both real and scripted.
The deal could be announced as early as this week, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss confidential negotiations.
The deal would create a new, publicly traded company, according to the people, with Endeavor’s U.F.C. league composing 51 percent of the business and W.W.E. the remaining 49 percent.
The union would increase the combined company’s leverage in negotiations with distributors of its content, potentially allowing it to command a higher price for programming than the companies could separately.
The rest of Endeavor, which includes the William Morris Endeavor talent agency, would remain a separate, publicly traded company.
The deal would be a coda to a tumultuous chapter in the career of W.W.E.’s executive chairman, Vince McMahon, who in January was reinstated in that role after announcing his retirement last year amid allegations of misconduct. Mr. McMahon took over the company from his father and built it into a television and live-event juggernaut that draws millions of fans annually.
And it would be the latest in a series of audacious deals struck by Ari Emanuel, the workaholic Hollywood talent agent who rose from the mailroom to become one of the entertainment industry’s most important power brokers.
The deal under discussion values W.W.E. at more than $9 billion, and U.F.C. at more than $12 billion, the people said.
CNBC earlier reported that Endeavor was in talks to acquire W.W.E.
Hollywood talent agencies have forged several mergers recently. Last year, Creative Artists Agency acquired ICM Partners, a rival agency, and United Talent Agency acquired Curtis Brown Group, a talent agency based in London.
The deal comes as demand for live events — one of the last linchpins of the cable TV bundle — has reached a high. TV programmers, eager to hold onto their highly profitable traditional businesses, are paying billions of dollars to acquire sports rights. Streaming services like YouTube TV are also paying top dollar for the rights to marquee sporting events, including N.F.L. games, to attract new viewers, creating a competitive bidding war.
The W.W.E. currently streams WrestleMania, one of its signature events, on Peacock, the streaming service owned by Comcast. The U.F.C. streams its matches on ESPN+, the streaming service operated by Disney’s sports division. Both companies also present their matches on traditional TV, with U.F.C. fights available on a pay-per-view basis and W.W.E. programming available on the Fox broadcasting network and NBCUniversal’s U.S.A. channel.
A deal with Endeavor would come at an opportune time for W.W.E., which has valuable programming deals expiring soon.
As might be expected for the theatrical W.W.E., news of the potential deal broke at a time of peak spectacle. The company is holding its WrestleMania event at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles this weekend, drawing long-running wrestling stars, including John Cena and Rey Mysterio.
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