The internet is buzzing about a potential new blockbuster broadcast deal for the UFC.
According to TerezOwens.com this proposed deal is worth a total of 320m/yr (160m/yr each). ESPN and NBC to pay for production (current deal UFC pays for production). ESPN and NBC will also have streaming rights and the UFC Fight Pass prelims moving to their streaming platforms. The Contender Series would replace The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) (each network gets one season each per year). PPVs reduced to 6 a year. New weight classes to be added to help fill the increased fight nights (men 165, female 105, etc). Each network will have exclusive rights to certain fighters (similar to how HBO and Showtime have their own boxers which they develop and build) outside of PPV.
Last year, the UFC saw the end of their 7-year deal with FOX. The network and its offshoots (alongside Fight Pass) has been the sole broadcaster of non-PPV events for the UFC since 2011 in the United States.
The UFC averaged around 20 events per year on various FOX channels, with a price tag of around $90 million-a-year. That number has apparently increased over time to around $120 million-a-year, with a planned increase to $160 million in this last year of the deal.
According to multiple reports, the UFC is looking for a substantial jump in revenue, as Sports Business Daily reports the promotion is seeking $450 million-a-year in broadcast rights revenue now that their exclusive negotiating period with FOX has ended. And so far, with a price tag like that, it sounds like there arent many buyers.
Apparently, FOX had looked to make a new deal with the UFC for somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 million-a-year, before the negotiating window ended. Since then, WME-IMG has reportedly met with multiple networks, to pitch their strength as a growing sports-entertainment property. SBD reports that Turner Sports has shown the most interest in a UFC deal, but a current lawsuit from the Justice Department over a potential merger between AT&T and Time Warner seems to be pouring cold water on their willingness to place a bid at the moment.
Additionally, the UFC has apparently met with Amazon among other digital providers, with some speculating that they may eventually pursue non-exclusive deals that would allow them to get closer to their revenue goal by offering different event packages on different platforms. There is still time before the UFCs broadcast deal officially ends in late 2018.