ESPN Expands UFC Rights Deal to Become Exclusive Digital, TV Home of UFC in U.S.
The deal includes 30 UFC Fight Night bouts per year – 10 on ESPN TV networks and 20 streaming on ESPN+
ESPN and the UFC unveiled the full scope of its five-year, reportedly $1.5 billion rights deal on Wednesday that makes ESPN media platforms the exclusive digital and television home of the UFC in the United States, further expanding streaming rights to UFC on ESPN+ and building upon the agreement revealed earlier this month.
ESPN+ and ESPN will become the exclusive digital and linear distributors in the United States for UFC, showcasing 42 live events, 30 of which will feature a full card of 12 UFC bouts starting in January 2019.
ESPN linear networks will broadcast 10 exclusive events as well as all UFC pay-per-view preliminary fights, while ESPN+ will offer 20 exclusive events and all preliminary fights for “UFC on ESPN Fight Night” programs.
Events broadcast on ESPN will be branded “UFC on ESPN Fight Night,” while events streamed live on ESPN+ will carry the “UFC on ESPN+ Fight Night” moniker.
Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN President and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks says, “ESPN’s unparalleled multimedia platform is the perfect home for the UFC and will deliver tremendous value to both parties. UFC fans are passionate and loyal and we plan to bring the full power of ESPN’s live coverage, powerful storytelling, and unmatched distribution to serve them in an unprecedented fashion. We can’t wait to get started.”
Kevin Mayer, Chairman, Direct-To-Consumer and International, The Walt Disney Company adds, “The expansion of our relationship with UFC is an exciting development for fight fans. Delivering 20 exclusive UFC fight nights per year and a host of original content to UFC’s young, passionate, and tech-savvy fan base, makes ESPN+ the clear new digital home for UFC and further establishes our new service as the leading platform for direct-to-consumer sports streaming.”
Dana White, President, UFC says, “Every year for the last 18 years, we have taken this sport and brand to another level. We find innovative ways to promote our athletes and build stars. Today is another monumental day for UFC, our athletes, and our fans. We are now part of the ESPN family, recognized around the world as the pinnacle in sports broadcasting. I am very excited for this next chapter for UFC.” With more than 280 million fans around the world, UFC has the youngest fan base among major professional sports organizations in the US with a median age of 40 and an audience comprising 40% millennials.