2019 is going to be a very interesting year for the UFC, especially since the promotion will transition from Fox to ESPN as the year begins.
ESPN also airs live events from Top Rank Boxing, with ESPN Executive VP Of Scheduling & Programming Burke Magnus says that a UFC event and a boxing event could run on the same night.
“I could easily see that. What I’m fond of saying to people is if the genie came out of the bottle and granted me one wish it would be for 104 Saturday nights per year. I think there’s no doubt that we’ll look to pair the two. In both cases, because of the staging aspects to it, we could also use timezones to our advantage. Like we did this year with Top Rank coming out of an SEC football game on a Saturday night with a big lead-in, we can do that kind of scheduling as well thanks to the fact that these things can be scheduled accordingly,” Magnus said to The Big Lead.
Top Rank Boxing is run by promoter Bob Arum, who has had a bad relationship with UFC President Dana White for many years now.
Outside of running back to back combat sports events, another move Magnus wants to make is the proper use of the extensive UFC tape library.
“It’s in there. It’ll be a combination of linear and digital on ESPN+. I actually love the versatility of the library for linear on a slow night where there might not be much going on. In primetime we could throw on an old or even fairly recent PPV cards or just make a compilation event. It’s in the deal. Because they have Fight Pass and that’s the one place you can get it all, our library rights will have many hours, but it will rotate so you won’t have it all at one time,” says Magnus.
The UFC is set to debut on ESPN in 2019, with events taking place on a variety of ESPN channels and the organizations online service known as ESPN+.