The UFC is going to Amazon.
On Wednesday, a deal was announced that will see UFC pay-per-view cards air on Amazon starting with this weekend’s UFC 222 show as the first on the streaming service.
Amazon has aggressively pursued streaming rights to several sports properties in recent months. This is the latest addition to its growing line up. The news was first reported by the Sports Business Daily.
Of course, Amazon does not have exclusive streaming rights, as the UFC also airs pay-per-views on its own online network, but this is one more place where events will be available for purchase.
The starting price point is $64.99 on Amazon.
What About the UFC on FOX Sports?
This announcement comes as the UFC is in the midst of negotiations on a new television broadcast deal with their current contract with FOX Sports coming to an end at the close of 2018.
FOX Sports has taken steps to keep the UFC on its network with offers reportedly in the range of $200 to $250 million per year, which is a sizable increase from the current rate the promotion is being paid.
Rumors have swirled that Amazon was a potential suitor for at least a piece of those broadcast rights and this deal for pay-per-view only seems to further fuel that speculation. Amazon may not try to buy the entire television broadcast rights package, but it is possible they reach some sort of streaming deal for events such as preliminary fights or certain UFC Fight Night cards that currently air on UFC Fight Pass, the promotion’s own online streaming service.
It’s doubtful that the UFC would attempt to strike a deal for all of its fights to air on Amazon as the loss of a network partner would be seen as a step back for the promotion, despite all of the online availability of programming these days with more and more consumers cutting the cord and turning to streaming services.
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While outlets like Amazon and Apple are dropping billions on original programming and winning a ton of awards, sports programming is still one most lucrative rights deals that network TV will fight to hold onto in an attempt to combat streaming services.
For now, look for UFC 222 on Amazon this weekend with future pay-per-views also being offered in the future.