As reported earlier today, ESPN has reached a $1.5 billion, five-year deal securing the television rights of the UFC. Wednesday afternoon, Dana White confirmed the news on Twitter, announcing ESPN will, in fact, be the new home for the UFC in 2019:
— Dana White (@danawhite) May 23, 2018
Brett Okamoto later would add via Twitter that per Dana White, UFC will maintain control over its live events broadcast on ESPN, with White praising the work of the production crew. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Per Dana White, UFC will maintain control of its production of live events on ESPN. "The fans are happy with the way our show is presented, and the networks are too, which is why we get these deals done. Our production is incredible, we do an amazing job and we'll continue to."
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) May 23, 2018
With ESPN and UFC both experiencing a slump in ratings recently, the status quo for both companies did require some fixing, on the other hand. News of the deal was first reported by Variety.com. UFC cards are expected to appear on ESPN’s television networks as well as the ESPN+ streaming service. This deal comes fresh off the heals of Fox coming to a $1 billion deal for the rights of WWE Smackdown. Dana White also believes that ESPN has more promotional commitment and power to be very beneficial to fighters in the promotion:
“ESPN has shown its commitment to not only UFC, but MMA. The amount of promotion our athletes are going to get now, and what ESPN is doing with this new platform, it’s going to be very big for the fighters.”
What do you think? Is ESPN a Better Fit for the UFC than Fox?