The UFC has just taken the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) to a completely new level, as last night it was reported that the promotion had signed a lucrative broadcasting deal with ESPN.
For the past seven years, UFC has been airing its Fight Night and other combat events on FOX's multiple platforms.
FOX has been known as the home of the UFC for nearly a decade, but after recent negotiations, ESPN will welcome in the fight world on its grand platform.
Preparing The Groundwork
Several weeks ago the foundation for this deal was laid out when ESPN announced it would receive 15 UFC events per year for its ESPN+ platform. The deal was set to kick in around 2019.
The Sports Business Journal reported that the deal was five years-long and worth $150 million per year. The deal also included UFC Fight Pass features, as well as Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series.
A Historic New Chapter
It appears that ESPN has now obtained the full broadcasting rights for the MMA promotional juggernaut, as Variety reports ESPN and its group of sub-networks will now carry UFC events.
This means that beginning in 2019, FOX will no longer be carrying UFC events. The deal includes 30 UFC cards per year, and the estimated value of the contract is around $1.5 billion over the span of five years.
UFC will be raking in $300 million per year in the revised deal. It's still unclear how many PPV events the UFC will run in 2019, however, the standard 12 to 13 margin isn't expected to change much.
FOX was previously paying the UFC $100 million per year for broadcast rights over the past seven years. When negotiations opened up for renewal, the UFC was hoping to land somewhere around $400 million annually.
This is a game-changer for the sport of MMA, as the largest fighting promotion in the world will now have the platform of the mecca of sports broadcasting over at ESPN.
Now MMA will be featured at a much more mainstream level and it will surely do wonders for the sport moving forward.
Many already expected the UFC not to re-sign with FOX after news that a deal between them and the WWE had been reached to broadcast their SmackDown Live show. That deal is also estimated to be a billion dollar contract.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that FOX is paying $205 million per year for SmackDown Live, and will be moving it from Tuesday nights to Fridays.
WWE's flagship show, Monday Night RAW, is still up for grabs, however, NBC Universal's USA Network is preparing a large bid to keep them put.
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