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The ongoing WGA strike will ultimately be a net positive for Endeavor, the owner of talent agency WME, predicts Mark Shapiro, the company’s president and COO.
Speaking at a JPMorgan conference Wednesday, Shapiro said that with regards to the strike, “both sides are really trenched in and there are significant issues, but it’s temporary.”
However, when it is resolved (and it will be resolved), “this is a growth opportunity for us,” he said.
“When this gets settled — however some of these issues get sliced — the writers are going to do better. That’s just a fact,” Shapiro added. “They’re not coming back for lesser deals or the same deals. They’re going to do better economically. And as they do better economically, that plays into the ecosystem. And then we, as a leader in that space through WME, we’ll take our fair share of that ecosystem.”
Of course Endeavor is not just in the agency business. It is also in the sports business, through owned properties like the UFC and PBR, and through its IMG rights business.
The UFC and the WWE are currently set to merge into a new company, TKO Group, later this year.
Shapiro noted that, despite the rapid increase in cost for sports rights, it is that sort of “premium content” that will be necessary for big streaming services, and Shapiro argued that the UFC and WWE fit that bill.
“If ESPN+ wants to go up from 25 million subs to 50 million and charge more than $9.99 a month, it isn’t going to be tertiary or secondary content that moves the needle,” Shapiro said. “It’s going to be the big stalwarts.”
Shapiro added that despite concerns from executives like Bob Iger about cord-cutting, he predicts that it will begin to slow down in the coming years, settling at a decline of about 2 percent per year.
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