MONDAY NEWS DIGEST 3/18: UFC shifts all pay-per-views to ESPN+, extends term of partnership with Bristol, McGregor says he’s in negotiations for July return

By Michael Hiscoe, Managing Editor

A big shift for PPV

If you have spent any part of the past 25 years ordering UFC pay-per-view events on your TV, things are about to change very soon.

In a deal that could have major ramifications for UFC, ESPN, and the pay-per-view industry as a whole, it was announced today that all UFC pay-per-views will now exclusively be available for purchase through UFC’s ESPN+ streaming platform in the United States.

The shift begins with UFC’s next pay-per-view event, UFC 236 on April 13. The events will not be part of the $5/month ESPN+ package that other UFC events are part of but instead, be made available for purchase at $59.99 apiece.

In addition to the pay-per-view shift, UFC and ESPN have extended their deal for an additional two years, keeping them together until the end of 2025.

As an incentive for new customers, a bundle that includes one UFC pay-per-view and 12 months of ESPN+ will be available for $79.99.

The move is similar to WWE’s departure from pay-per-view in 2014, but in some ways, much more abrupt. WWE still broadcast their shows at full price on traditional cable and satellite pay-per-view for several years after launching the $9.99/month WWE Network streaming service that included PPV events as part of the package. UFC appears to be abandoning cable and satellite altogether. It was just a few months ago that reports surfaced that UFC had negotiated a stronger deal with the cable and satellite providers that would bring a larger percentage of the revenue to UFC.

It is unclear what financial arrangement between UFC and ESPN was made but one would think ESPN would have had to make a favourable offer to UFC to lure them away from the traditional model.

UFC is currently scheduled for twelve pay-per-view events this year but the new deal could allow UFC to offer a less rigid PPV format where only the biggest events can be offered as pay-per-view rather than trying to throw less than stellar cards together each and every month.

The are currently no plans to change the way fans order shows outside of the United States.

“Today’s announcement further establishes the strength of the partnership between UFC and ESPN,” UFC President Dana White said in a statement. “Now our fans will be able to watch all UFC events exclusively on ESPN platforms, including ESPN+, which is an innovative way to deliver fights to our young fan base. I couldn’t be more excited to work with ESPN for the next seven years. Together we’re going to do amazing things to help grow this sport.”

Monday Notebook

-Conor McGregor told an ABC affiliate in Boston that he is negotiating with UFC for a July fight. “I am staying ready. This morning I was doing incline sprints on the treadmill on my program, the McGregor F.A.S.T. program, staying in a hotel room. So we’re staying on it, getting work in as we go.”

-Said Nurmagomedov vs. Raoni Barcelos has been added to UFC 237 on May 11 from Rio de Janeiro.

In case you missed it

FREE PODCAST 3/18 – PWTorch Dailycast – MMA Talk for Pro Wrestling Fans: Vallejos, Monsey, and Hiscoe review UFC Fight Night: Till vs. Masvidal, preview UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs. Pettis, discuss Conor McGregor’s recent arrest, more (82 min)

“Dolly Pardon” – 5 times Conor McGregor fooked up

Dana White speaking about the PPV shift to ESPN+


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