After much speculation, the UFC finally made another major broadcast move to solidify itself as the true drivers of mixed martial arts content by aligning with ESPN.
The MMA leader just inked a five-year deal worth $750 million for 15 exclusive fight cards. ESPN has reportedly decided to take the entire UFC television rights package starting in 2019. The deal runs over five years and worth a reported $1.5 billion.
Starting in January 2019, ESPN+ and ESPN become the exclusive digital and linear distributors in the U.S. for UFC. Be Smarter. Faster. More Colorful and get the full story at http://www.usatoday.com/ Want even more?!
ESPN will pay approximately $300 million per year for a total of 30 fight cards that will start in January 2019.
The UFC cards are expected to be split between ESPN and ESPN+, the new streaming service that was just launched earlier this year, effectively ending the UFC on FOX era.
The UFC had a seven-year relationship with FOX and still has until the end of 2018 on the FOX family of networks, but the company just recently decided to pay $1 billion for the rights to WWE Smackdown Live.
The ESPN deal will call for 30 fight cards per year with the UFC still doing pay-per-view events and maintaining UFC Fight Pass, its digital online streaming service.
The new television rights deal comes two years after WME-IMG purchased the UFC for $4 billion. At the time, the group hoped to get between $400 to $450 million for a new television rights deal, but settled for $300 million to move to ESPN.