ESPN Inks Exclusive, Multi-Year Rights Deal With Professional Fighters League
The Professional Fighters League (PFL) has reached a multi-year deal making ESPN and ESPN+ the home of the PFL in the United States, and with TSN, making it the exclusive home of PFL in Canada.
All 10 PFL events will air live across ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+, the direct-to-consumer subscription sports streaming service in the United States, with up to three hours of exclusive action live on ESPN+ and up to two exclusive hours live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
TSN holds similar rights and will exclusively air all PFL events in Canada. The rights include the regular season, playoffs and championship event.
Six, five-hour PFL Regular Season events will take place on Thursday nights from May to August. Three PFL Playoff events will take place in October, with coverage also carried across ESPN+, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. PFL Playoff events will feature the top eight fighters in each of the competition’s six weight classes attempting to fight—and win—twice in the same night to advance to the PFL Championship.
The season culminates with the PFL 2019 Championship on New Year’s Eve with world title fights in every weight class live exclusively on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. Winners of each title bout will be crowned PFL World Champion in their weight class and earn $1 million.
In addition to the live events, ESPN platforms will bring fans pre- and post-event coverage and additional exclusive PFL content, including an inside look at the league through a ‘Road to the Playoffs,’ ‘Road to the Championship’ and the PFL ‘Best of Season.’ The agreement starts with the telecast of the 2018 PFL Season Review and 2019 Roster Selection Show this spring.
Specific details about scheduling and surround programming will be announced in the coming weeks.
The upcoming PFL season will include the debut of MMA’s first-ever 155-pound women’s division, which will feature two-time American Olympic Gold Medalist Kayla Harrison, as well as SmartCage and Cagenomics, proprietary PFL features that deliver real-time data and analytics to bring fans “inside the cage.”
“We are pleased to add the PFL to our combat sports roster. This unique and innovative competition structure provides MMA fans with a great option to see some of the best fights and content in the sport,” says Burke Magnus, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming and Scheduling. “ESPN is the home of combat sports, and we look forward to delivering thrilling live PFL events and powerful storytelling to fans, across all platforms.”
“The PFL was created to offer the 300 million global MMA fans the sport-season format that other major sports like the NFL and NBA have, which is the transparency and meritocracy of a regular season, playoffs and championship,” says Donn Davis, Co-Founder and Chairman, Professional Fighters League. “Fans can now follow the stories, and business partners can engage in the journeys, of the PFL fighters throughout the season. This agreement to bring PFL to ESPN and ESPN+ further validates our unique and innovative product and will accelerate the PFL’s growth.”
“We are thrilled to bring the PFL to ESPN, the undisputed leader in sports. ESPN is a ground-breaking pioneer that has fundamentally changed the way fans consume sports, and we at the PFL are reimagining MMA for fans and fighters,” adds Peter Murray, CEO, Professional Fighters League. “PFL will be the technology leader revolutionizing the way MMA fans experience watching live fights, using PFL’s proprietary SmartCage platform and Cagenomics system, to display real-time fighter data and take fans inside the cage.”