The partnership between the UFC and Fox will come to an end, as ESPN has reportedly agreed to a major broadcast deal with the UFC.
As first reported by Variety, the UFC will receive a total of 1.5 billion over a five year period, starting in early 2019.
In early May, the UFC announced a streaming deal with the newly launched ESPN+, but according to John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal the new television deal will include 10 full events on linear television, 20 events streamed on ESPN+, and prelim fights for all 12 UFC pay-per-views.
The initial report indicated that the UFC will remain on both pay-per-view, and continue to it’s own streaming service; UFC Fight Pass.
The UFC’s current deal with Fox yields an average of $116M per year for the UFC, the Fox deal began in 2011.
While the UFC is seeing a raise in their television revenue, Ourand also reports that the newly announced $300M per year the UFC will receive from ESPN (from both the streaming and linear deals) falls well below the $450M-per-year that the UFC sought after the company was sold to Endevor (formerly WME-IMG) in 2016.
Ourand also reports that Fox Sports was long considered the front runner to retain the UFC’s television rights, but Fox ultimately decided to focus their resources on WWE’s “SmackDown Live” for 250M per year.