Fox has been the home of UFC programming since August of 2011 and the MMA promotion could be finding a new place to call home by the end of this year.
The MMA organization may have found a shared home in Fox Sports and ESPN, because a report from Variety is stating that the two sports channels are possibly going to put in a shared bid for UFC TV rights when the deal with Fox expires. The exclusive negotiating rights for Fox expired late in 2017, so the UFC has been free to speak with whomever they choose to get a new deal done.
If the deal were to come together, it would see both channels split the UFC TV package, with at least 15 live events airing per year on the new ESPN+ streaming service. Variety also reports that ESPN is willing to pay somewhere between $120 - $180 million per year for their part in the venture, while Fox (the parent company of Fox Sports) is willing to put $200 million annually into the deal.
Assuming Fox remains a part of the deal, it could see the amount of events that air on that network and Fox Sports decline slightly since live cards would also be airing on ESPN+.
Endeavor, who owns the UFC, was reportedly seeking $300 - $400 million for the UFC TV rights, so a joint deal with ESPN and Fox could get the UFC owners that number. There is no word at this time how the potential TV deal could affect events streaming live on UFC Fight Pass, since a part of the deal would see events air on ESPN’s streaming service.
ESPN and Fox have shared rights to other sporting events in the past, including games from Big Ten Conference (NCAA) sporting events, Major League Soccer (MLS) games and Pac 12 (NCAA) football games.
There has been no comment from ESPN, Fox or the UFC on the potential TV deal.