Published: Sat, May 26, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

ESPN Adds Fights to UFC TV Rights Deal, Reaching $1.5 Billion Value

ESPN Adds Fights to UFC TV Rights Deal, Reaching $1.5 Billion Value

UFC, the world's premier mixed martial arts organization, and The Walt Disney Company's new Direct-To-Consumer and worldwide segment along with ESPN, today announced the full scope of the historic multi-year agreement that makes ESPN-branded media platforms the exclusive digital and television home of the UFC in the United States, further expanding streaming rights to UFC on ESPN+ and building upon the agreement revealed earlier this month.

Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN President and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks said, "ESPN's unparalleled multimedia platform is the flawless home for the UFC and will deliver tremendous value to both parties".

The UFC cards are expected to be split between ESPN and ESPN+, the new streaming service that was just launched by the sports giant earlier this year. After nabbing a different set of TV rights from UFC in April for a five-year deal worth $750 million, the second pact will deliver an additional 30 fights to Disney. ESPN networks will also reportedly air the preliminary bouts of pay-per-view events. The UFC ran 39 fight cards in 2017 and this new deal will only see a moderate increase with 30 cards on ESPN and ESPN+, in addition to 12 pay-per-view events.

Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN's president and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks said "UFC fans are passionate and loyal".

Reps from ESPN, UFC and Fox Sports could not be reached for comment. UFC President Dana White told MMAJunkie past year that the show, "can go on forever" and "is always going to be relevant".

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The UFC's deal with Fox Sports ends in December.

But the new deal still represents a more than doubling of what Fox paid UFC in the soon-to-lapse seven-year deal, a testament to the enduring market value of live sports. We find innovative ways to promote our athletes and build stars.

Fox had held the rights to the latter package since 2011, paying around $120 million annually, but the network announced this week that it will pay $1 billion over five years for the right to air WWE's "SmackDown Live" pro wrestling program on Friday nights.

Can the UFC be ESPN's savior?

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