It appears ESPN is in full tilt with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
As it is, fight fans were surprised to hear the announcement that a deal was reached to have 15 UFC events take place on ESPN+, which is a digital platform. The deal was said to be worth $750 million over five years. If a new report is to be believed, then there will be plenty more UFC content coming on the major ESPN networks.
Variety is reporting that ESPN has nabbed exclusive television rights worth $300 million per year. This deal is also said to be for five years and worth a total of $1.5 billion. This effectively means FOX will be out of the UFC business in 2019 and now turns their attention to WWE and its SmackDown Live brand.
The new deal will add 15 more events for a total of 30 across ESPN’s platforms. Pay-per-views will still be a crucial part of the UFC’s business model as well as the UFC Fight Pass streaming service. At this time it hasn’t been confirmed whether or not additional events will be aired on UFC Fight Pass now that ESPN has TV rights.
For seven years, the UFC has had a relationship with FOX. A big chunk of sports content on the FOX Sports network involves the promotion. The UFC has also produced 29 events on the major FOX network, with the 30th card taking place on July 28.
When Endeavor, formerly known as WME-IMG, purchased the UFC they hoped to reach a TV deal worth $400-500 million per year. While $300 million falls short of their expectations, it’s still an achievement for the UFC that was once viewed as a pipe dream. For ESPN, the UFC deal couldn’t come any sooner as the sports media conglomerate has been losing subscribers rapidly.
Do you think ESPN is a good home for the UFC?