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ESPN Pays $1.5 Billion For Exclusive TV-Rights Deal With UFC

by Daniel Gerbick on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

UFC + ESPN MMA DealThe UFC has a new home on television after ESPN agreed to pay $1.5 billion over five years ($300 million per year) for the right to broadcast its fights.

According to multiple reports, ESPN has secured the television rights to the UFC and will begin broadcasting the mixed martial arts fights in January.

The events covered under this deal will be split between ESPN’s television channels and ESPN+, the new streaming service launched last month.

According to Variety, which first reported the agreement on Wednesday morning, ESPN will broadcast 30 UFC Fight Night events per year with 10 main cards running on ESPN’s television networks and the other 20 streaming on ESPN+, the company’s newly launched streaming service.

The deal also includes the preliminary fights of 12 pay-per-view events. ESPN had recently secured the digital rights to UFC for $150 million per year and is set to broadcast 10 events and 12 pay-per-view events on its linear platform.

Fox Sports had previously owned the rights to UFC’s television broadcasts since 2011 paying $120 million annually, but the network decided to pull out from a new deal after it won the rights to WWE’s “SmackDown Live.”

The deal with ESPN should bring further stability to the UFC’s finances. The MMA organization has historically relied heavily on a pay-per-view model, which is highly unpredictable due to the likelihood of recognized stars losing or retiring due to age or injuries among other factors.

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