News broke late Tuesday night that FOX was out and ESPN was all-in when it comes to UFC broadcasting rights.
The UFC and ESPN announced in early May that the sports broadcasting giant had acquired the digital streaming rights to 15 UFC Fight Night events per year beginning in 2019. Those Fight Night events were set to be streamed via the new ESPN+ digital subscription service. The latest news revamps that deal a bit.
FOX and UFC Talks Go South
At that time, it was believed that FOX was going to try and keep the UFC on its traditional broadcast and cable networks. That deal fell apart, however, when FOX came to terms with WWE for a $1 billion deal to broadcast its “Smackdown Live” product.
When the FOX deal went south, ESPN swooped in and picked up the pieces, expanding on its digital deal to include its other network properties and increase the number of events from 15 to 30.
UFC and ESPN Broadcast Details
As noted, the deal is set to begin in January of 2019, picking up immediately after the FOX deal ends. The term of the deal, as noted by MMAWeekly.com’s Damon Martin, is worth $300 million annually for five years, making the five-year deal worth a total of $1.5 billion to the mixed martial arts juggernaut.
The UFC-ESPN rights package includes 30 UFC Fight Night events per year. ESPN’s television networks will broadcast 10 UFC Fight Night main cards per year, while ESPN+will stream the other 20 Fight Night events. Each of the 30 UFC Fight Nights is expected to consist of 12 bouts.
The UFC will continue to broadcast 12 events per year on pay-per-view, while ESPN networks will air the preliminary bouts leading into the pay-per-view events.
In addition to the UFC live events, ESPN is expected to stream the Dana White Tuesday Night Contenders Series beginning in 2019, as well as shoulder programming, which includes weigh-ins, pre- and post- shows, and the like.