It was announced today that ESPN secured a five-year deal worth 1.5 billion USD for the exclusive right to broadcast Ultimate Fighting Championship events on both the network’s streaming service, ESPN+, and cable television channels.
The official press release, posted on espnmediazone.com, notes the particulars of the new partnership including rebranding and frequency of promotional fight cards:
“Starting in January 2019, ESPN+ and ESPN 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. ESPN linear networks will broadcast 10 exclusive events as well as all UFC pay-per-view preliminary fights, while ESPN+, the recently-launched multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service, 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. With this agreement, the only destination where fans can watch all UFC programming is the ESPN app, and in the future, the full breadth of content will be available on ESPN+.
When announcing this lucrative deal, a move that marks the now inevitable end of the UFC’s relationship with Fox Entertainment Group, UFC President Dana White was quoted by ESPN as stating,
“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.”
The UFC’s next chapter begins in January of 2019 giving fans plenty of time to adjust viewing habits and subscription services.