Thursday, 16 August, 2018

ESPN and UFC strike multi-year digital rights deal

CREDIT John Locher  AP  REX  Shutterstock CREDIT John Locher AP REX Shutterstock
Tamara Craig | 09 May, 2018, 01:17

"This agreement shows the commitment we have to delivering fans the very best across our entire platform". Rumors of some sort of deal with ESPN had been swirling for months.

While many have been eagerly waiting to see where the UFC will wind up when it comes to a television deal, the promotion has announced an exclusive streaming agreement.

"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", White said. The league is still looking at TV networks to distribute its content, and Fox Sports and NBC Sports are both rumored to be in the mix for a broadcast deal.

UFC has had a broadcast agreement with Fox that started in 2011 and expires at the end of this year.

ESPN and UFC have reached a deal that will bring 15 exclusive live events to ESPN+, the sports network's new streaming service.

Day hits spectacular shot en route to victory at Quail Hollow
That was probably a good thing. "I wasn't quite happy with how I was hitting it at the Match Play", said Day at Augusta National. Jason Day's tee shots were not his best on Sunday. "Today it was a bit of a struggle through eight holes", Day said.

Meanwhile, the UFC is free to negotiate with other partners for the rest of its live rights.

This agreement between the two companies provides for 15 live UFC events to stream exclusively on ESPN+.

ESPN will also bring fans a variety of UFC content across ESPN's linear and digital platforms, including an exclusive, 30-minute special on ESPN's linear networks previewing upcoming bouts and breaking down match-ups leading up to each UFC PPV; hundreds of hours of UFC library programming on linear networks; and re-airs of current UFC PPV events. "But seeing this product that they built is really what convinced us", he said.

Each ESPN+ event will be branded as UFC on ESPN+ Fight Night, and include 12 bouts. The offering, one of two planned over-the-top products now being developed within Disney, is ESPN's answer to the growing audience for streaming content and a declining base of subscribers to its linear television offerings. ESPN+, which launched last month at a price of $4.99 per month, will also carry the UFC's Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series beginning in June 2019.

ESPN+ subscribers will also be able to purchase and watch UFC's own digital streaming offering UFC Fight Pass and UFC pay-per-view events via ESPN+ for an additional cost.

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