Mark Shapiro and Endeavor Reinvented Major Sports Deals

Shapiro always manages to close big transactions, whether it’s marrying Ultimate Fighting Championship with World Wrestling Entertainment or calling Stephen A. Smith to be hired by ESPN. Both he and Ari Emanuel are currently redefining sports, media, and entertainment in their roles as president and chief operating officer of Endeavor and TKO, the publicly traded union of the WWE and UFC. Shapiro shares Alex Rodriguez and Jason Kelly’s guiding philosophy in the most recent edition of The Deal. Even in the most unstable media landscapes, game watching remains a popular pastime.

The Deal with Alex Rodriguez and Jason Kelly is available to stream and subscribe to on the Bloomberg Terminal, Apple, Spotify, iHeart, and iHeart.

Ecosystem of Sports: Shapiro

“Live events—sports—work.” In his signature rapid-fire style, Shapiro continues, “It’s glue, it’s sticky, it’s traction, it’s high engagement, it’s rooting interest, rivalries, it’s young, it’s sports betting as part of the ecosystem.” “That’s the place you should be.”
As the audacious young director of programming at ESPN, Shapiro gained notoriety by approving some of the network’s most recognizable shows, such as Pardon the Interruption, the venerable conversation and debate program hosted by Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser.

In addition, Shapiro defied his direct reports when he invited Stephen A. Smith for an audition, a move that propelled Smith to the summit of the sports media hierarchy and revolutionized the genre by emphasizing controversial viewpoints. Smith will be a guest on The Deal in a future episode.

The two continue to collaborate, with Smith now being represented by Endeavor’s talent division. With the help of his colleague Emanuel, who gained notoriety as the fictional Ari Gold character on Entourage, Shapiro has transformed Endeavor into a diverse entertainment business with a significant sports investment. The creation of TKO, which went public last fall and currently has a $16 billion market valuation, was its largest achievement.

Shapiro, who oversaw Six Flags between ESPN and Endeavor, says he is concentrated on fostering environments that allow talent to continue developing both within and outside of his business amongst all the deal-making.

He states, “You should leave that company if the executives, leaders, and managers are not investing in their employees, planning for the future, trying to identify tomorrow’s stars, investing in them, bringing them up the ranks, and nurturing them.”

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