One piece of the UFC’s rights puzzle ha been solved.
According to a release on their website, the UFC has reached a deal with ESPN that includes ESPN’s newly launches ESPN+ streaming service airing 15 exclusive UFC events. The release also made referenced UFC content also being distributed across the various ESPN platforms.
These 15 fight cards will be branded as “UFC on ESPN+ Fight Night” with an expected total of 12 fights taking place on each event.
John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal reported that the deal will see ESPN pay the UFC $150M per year over a five year period, beginning in 2019.
While this does answer some questions about the future of the UFC, it does not address the future of two important properties.
The UFC is still in negotiations for their television broadcast rights. The report by Ourand indicated that am announcement of a television deal is not imminent.
It is also unclear how a streaming deal impacts the UFC’s current streaming service, UFC Fight Pass. In 2017, the UFC aired five events in their entirety on UFC Fight Pass. Currently, UFC Fight Pass also features preliminary bouts on every UFC card.
ESPN+ launched in April 2018, and carries a monthly fee of $4.99 per month.