UFC strikes landmark pay-per-view deal with ESPN, extends broadcast deal through 2025

March 18, 2019

The UFC has struck a deal with ESPN+ as the exclusive distributor of pay-per-view broadcasts in the United States through 2025.

The landmark deal was announced on Monday.

As part of the contract, ESPN+ will now become the exclusive home for UFC pay-per-views in the U.S. starting with UFC 236: Holloway vs. Poirier 2 on April 13.

Fans in the United States will only be able to purchase UFC pay-per-views through ESPN+ starting with that card in April with the events being streamed in high definition on the platform. The preliminary cards will remain a staple of regular ESPN broadcasts, which will then lead into the pay-per-views airing on ESPN+.

UFC will continue to sell its pay-per-view events to commercial establishments (such as restaurants, bars, etc who carry UFC cards). 

Along with the new pay-per-view contract, the UFC has also extended its broadcast rights deal with ESPN for an additional two years through 2025 as well.

“Today’s announcement further establishes the strength of the partnership between UFC and ESPN,” UFC President Dana White said in a press release. “Now our fans will be able to watch all UFC events exclusively on ESPN platforms, including ESPN+, which is an innovative way to deliver fights to our young fan base.

“I couldn’t be more excited to work with ESPN for the next seven years. Together we’re going to do amazing things to help grow this sport.”

The new deal also comes along with benefits to ESPN+ subscribers interested in watching the UFC pay-per-views.

“New ESPN+ subscribers will get one-year of ESPN+ and a UFC PPV event for $79.99; Existing ESPN+ subscribers will be able to purchase UFC PPV events for $59.99 per event.”

As part of this new deal, viewers purchasing UFC pay-per-view events will only be able to do so through ESPN+ starting with UFC 236 in April. The events can then be viewed via streaming or directly from the ESPN app on devices such as Amazon Fire, Apple, Android, Chromecast, PS4, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs, X Box One and more.

“The extremely successful launch of the UFC on ESPN+ emphatically demonstrated the collective power and scale of ESPN and DTCI, and we couldn’t be more excited to continue to drive passionate fans to these new pay per view experiences,” ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. 

Pay-per-view has traditionally been one of the biggest moneymakers for the UFC over the years but this new deal completely changes the landscape for the promotion moving forward.

Just earlier this year, the UFC was in a public dispute with DirecTV over pay-per-view broadcast rights before striking a deal to continue airing events on that format.

Now the UFC will be putting all of their pay-per-views in the United States exclusively on ESPN+ with no other linear formats available for purchase through cable or satellite providers.