The UFC has announced a deal with the Walt Disney Company and ESPN to air events on ESPN+ and across a variety of ESPN’s television networks, with everything kicking off in January of 2019.
Although the press release issued by the UFC doesn’t say how much the deal is worth, a report from Sports Business Daily says the deal is worth $150 million annaully. Sports Business Daily also says the deal will last for five years, which means that the contract will expect by the end of 2024.
UFC has agreed to air 15 live events for exclusive streaming on ESPN+, which is similar to the UFC streaming live events on UFC Fight Pass. These shows will be dubbed “UFC on ESPN+ Fight Night” and will feature a minimum of twelve fights per card. The first of these cards is expected to take place in January of 2019, but nothing has been made official at this time.
UFC President Dana White said the following about the deal in a press release issued this morning:
“I couldn’t be more excited to partner with The Walt Disney Company and ESPN on an agreement that will continue to grow our sport. UFC has always done deals with the right partners at the right time and this one is no exception. We will now have the ability to deliver fights to our young fan base wherever they are and whenever they want it. This deal is a home run for ESPN and UFC.”
ESPN+ will also offer events streamed on UFC Fight Pass and UFC pay-per-view cards on the service for an additional cost. UFC Fight Pass will still offer live streaming UFC events and live shows from other promotions on their streaming service.
Here is a full list of what ESPN+ will offer UFC fans through the new deal with the promotion, beginning in January of 2019:
- Exclusive, all new-seasons of “Dana White’s Contender Series” beginning in June 2019
- A new original, all-access series produced by IMG Original Content
- Exclusive pre- and post-event shows for all 15 “UFC on ESPN+ Fight Nights”
- Non-exclusive access to UFC’s full archive of programming, including historic events, classic bouts, and original programming
- Additional UFC-branded content, including “UFC Countdown” shows, press conferences, weigh-ins, and pre-and post-shows
This deal will also see 30 minute pre-show specials airing on ESPN before each UFC pay-per-view events, similar to the pre-shows that currently air on Fox Sports 1. The deal will also see ESPN replay pay-per-events across their platform of networks, which is also similar to what Fox Sports does now.
There is going to be a new home for the UFC in 2019 and that new home is going to be the Walt Disney Company and ESPN.