UFC & Walt Disney Reach Deal, ESPN+ Getting Exclusive UFC Content

UFC & Walt Disney Reach Deal, ESPN+ Getting Exclusive UFC Content

The new deal has been rumored for some time and will expand UFC's reach to millions of mobile users.

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. (Fox's seven-year broadcast arrangement, which rose to $155 million in its current final year, expires in December.) Streaming rights are increasingly being treated by sports leagues and networks as key complements to broadcast deals, with significant value seen downstream as digital customers are acquired.

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 now air on Fox Sports 1.

The world's biggest mixed martial arts organization and Disney's new direct-to-consumer and worldwide 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. Library footage of shows before and after matches will be available as well as the UFC Fight Pass streaming service.

UFC sent out a release on Tuesday announcing what they referred to as a "groundbreaking deal" with Walt Disney Company and ESPN. 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.




"One of our goals for ESPN+ is to bring sports fans of all genres content they love and are passionate about, and this agreement with UFC is illustrative of exactly that", Kevin Mayer, ESPN chairman of direct to consumer and global, said in the statement. "We will now have the ability to deliver fights to our young fan base wherever they are and whenever they want it", he said in a statement.

Each ESPN+ event will be branded as UFC on ESPN+ Fight Night, and include 12 bouts. In an announcement, they explain they're teaming up with the Walt Disney Company and ESPN.

The deal marks the first partnership signed between Disney-owned ESPN and the UFC.

Starting in 2019, the UFC will begin streaming content on ESPN+, ESPN's new streaming service, which costs $4.99 a month.

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