Report indicates “more than 525,000” new ESPN+ subscribers as a result of UFC debut

January 28, 2019

The Sports Business Journal reports that ESPN gained  more than 525,000 new subscribers as a result of the UFC debut on the network.

With its debut at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn earlier this month, the company scored big (even with a delay) with the UFC.  The prelims drew nearly 2 million viewers with big numbers in other demos including the important A18-49 column.

The article reports on ESPN’s strategy of pushing its digital brand by handing out black “ESPN +” t-shirts for fans to wear during the UFC event at the Barclay’s center. It was part of a fan festival to bring in the company’s new partner.  It also had a special suite for press to show off its capabilities.

According to a press release from ESPN disclosed a day after the event the UFC Prelim card on the network drew 1.4 metered market rating which was the highest-rated UFC Fight Night Prelims on cable since 2013.  It also received over 568,000 subscribers of the ESPN + service where the early prelims and main card were aired.

Payout Perspective:

The latest disclosure in the SBJ article released on Monday indicates that there were approximately 43,000 subscribers that signed up for a trial version and then cancelled.  Yet the retention rates are superb considering the debut on ESPN did not have huge names.  It does seem ironic that the Flyweight division was featured yet, could be on the precipice of extinction.  A thing to monitor is how and if ESPN will continue to disclose these subscriber numbers (similar to how WWE has done it) and the retention rates.  Based on the debut, it looks like this could be the start of a promising partnership.

 

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