Negotiations have ended, with ESPN striking a multi-year deal with the UFC to stream 15 live events through the sports network’s new direct-to-consumer subscription service, ESPN+.
According to Deadline, the deal—which sources estimate is comprised of $150 million per year for five years—goes live in January of next year. These numbers would make sense, as the UFC’s broadcast deal with FOX generates similar annual figures.
With FOX’s seven-year broadcast deal ending this December, though, Endeavor—which led the pack in 2016’s $4 billion acquisition of the UFC—has eagerly been searching for new partners. Additionally, streaming rights are becoming more and more of a focus in broadcast deals, as networks consider them to become increasingly valuable as time goes on. After all, how many of you consume television content through the internet instead of actually paying for cable?
Regarding the deal, streaming 15 live events on ESPN+ isn’t all—the company plans on putting that content on “a variety of ESPN’s television, social and digital platforms” in English and Spanish, as well. Each of these events will be labeled “UFC on ESPN+ Fight Night.” In terms of the social media output, we recently reported on Disney planning to pump content from its properties, including ESPN, to Twitter—making the social media aspect of this news even more logical.
“I couldn’t be more excited to partner with The Walt Disney Company and ESPN on an agreement that will continue to grow our sport,” said Dana White, UFC President. “UFC has always done deals with the right partners at the right time and this one is no exception. We will now have the ability to deliver fights to our young fan base wherever they are and whenever they want it. This deal is a home run for ESPN and UFC.”
ESPN+ costs $5 per month and features MLB, NHL and a variety of other sports league content—with the UFC soon to join. For those of us impressed by and curious about the martial arts competition league, this seems like the perfect opportunity to join in.