UFC, ESPN announce extensive partnership

May 09, 2018, 01:16
UFC, ESPN announce extensive partnership

"This agreement shows the commitment we have to delivering fans the very best across our entire platform".

Endeavor co-president Mark Shapiro told Deadline that the commercial launch of ESPN+ accelerated the discussions with the company. (Ourand says the organization still is talking with Fox and NBC about the broadcast package, though a new deal is "not imminent.") According to Variety, the number of events on Fox networks would decrease with the addition of ESPN to the mix. That package, now held by Fox, expires at the end of the year.

As for the ESPN deal, it will see 15 UFC Fight Night events air exclusively on ESPN+, the network's streaming service.

The exclusive live events will be entitled "UFC on ESPN+ Fight Nights" - much like UFC on FOX, or the old UFC on Versus, UFC on Fuel TV, etc. The recently announced segment is responsible for The Walt Disney Company's direct-to-consumer businesses globally, including the ESPN+ sports streaming service, programmed in partnership with ESPN; the upcoming Disney-branded direct-to-consumer streaming service; and the Company's ownership stake in Hulu.

The world's biggest mixed martial arts organization and Disney's new direct-to-consumer and global division and ESPN on Tuesday unveiled their exclusive distribution pact that will see live UFC content also appear on ESPN's TV, social and digital platforms, in English and Spanish. The new deal has been rumored for some time and will expand UFC's reach to millions of mobile users.

By signing a contract with ESPN, UFC solves two of its problems.

The UFC continues to grow in popularity overseas, and the ESPN+ deal puts it on one of sports' strongest platforms. The price point of $5 a month was an additional bit of incentive, he said. UFC Fight Pass will still offer live streaming UFC events and live shows from other promotions on their streaming service. The deal means that Amazon, which sells UFC pay-per-view fights, will not be able to stream non-PPV UFC events.

Fans also get access to exclusive pre- and post-event shows for all of the 15 events, as well all new seasons of Dana White's Contender Series.

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