ESPN/Disney Machine Will Propel UFC To New Heights

Published on May 25th, 2018 11:59 am EST
Written By: Dave Manuel



Victorious mixed martial artist celebrating with his hands up and to the side.  Public in attendance cheering. Earlier this week, the UFC and ESPN announced that they had signed a 5-year, $1.5 billion rights deal. The two sides had originally inked a smaller deal that would have seen the UFC's Fight Night cards get included on ESPN's new ESPN+ streaming service, though the two sides decided to take things even further. This deal will see ESPN get all of the rights to the UFC's non-PPV cards and preliminary cards for PPV events.

The UFC is finishing up a multi-year deal with FOX, though the two sides were unable to reach an agreement on an extension. Once FOX and the WWE signed their billion dollar TV rights deal, the UFC and ESPN quickly reached terms on their comprehensive deal.

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Both sides win in this deal, as ESPN gets premium content for ESPN+ and its various ESPN channels, while the UFC gets included on a network that reaches almost 90 million homes in the United States.

On top of that, ESPN will surely be pushing the UFC very hard, likely including highlights and UFC news on shows such as SportsCenter with a much greater frequency. ESPN and the UFC haven't been on the best terms in the past, though things have changed overnight and the sport of mixed martial arts will get a massive boost from the UFC being included on ESPN.

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While the UFC didn't get as much money as they were hoping from their rights package, they still come out winners as a result of this deal, mainly due to the push that the sport will receive.

In addition, the UFC is still going to be hosting 12-13 PPV cards per year, so they will not only rake in money from their various TV rights deals (including $300 million a year from ESPN and any foreign TV rights deals), but also from their PPV events. These PPV events will be heavily promoted by ESPN as well, as they have the rights to the preliminary cards - this will translate into more PPV buys and more money in the UFC's coffers.

The UFC's fighters will likely also benefit from this news, as the promotion will have more money to spend on contracts. Anybody with PPV points will make more money due to ESPN's promotion, while fighters will likely make more in the future from their contracts as the UFC takes in more money from their TV rights deal.

In short - this is a great piece of news for the sport, the UFC and ESPN.

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