ESPN and PFL enter into multi-year deal to air on network and ESPN+

February 25, 2019

ESPN and The Professional Fighters League (PF) have reached a multi-year deal with the network making it the home of the promotion.  It will now become stablemates with the UFC on the network as it begins its second season of the PFL format in May.

ESPN and ESPN+ will become the exclusive media home for the PFL according to today’s press release.  Financial terms were not announced.  All ten PFL events will air live on ESPN platforms with “up to three hours of exclusive action” on ESPN + and two exclusive hours on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.  TSN will air all PFL events in Canada.

Via PFL Media:

In addition to the live events, ESPN platforms will bring fans pre- and post-event coverage and additional exclusive PFL content, including an inside look at the league through a ‘Road to the Playoffs,’ ‘Road to the Championship’ and the PFL ‘Best of Season.’ The agreement starts with the telecast of the 2018 PFL Season Review and 2019 Roster Selection Show this spring.

Specific details about scheduling and surround programming will be announced in the coming weeks.

Fans can look forward to some firsts this PFL season, including the debut of MMA’s first-ever 155-pound women’s division which will feature two-time American Olympic Gold Medalist Kayla Harrison, as well as SmartCage and Cagenomics, proprietary PFL features that deliver real-time data and analytics to bring fans “inside the cage.”

“We are pleased to add the PFL to our combat sports roster. This unique and innovative competition structure provides MMA fans with a great option to see some of the best fights and content in the sport,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming and Scheduling. “ESPN is the home of combat sports, and we look forward to delivering thrilling live PFL events and powerful storytelling to fans, across all platforms.”

The PFL aired on NBC Sports Network to middling ratings last year and as the World Series of Fighting had a deal with the network.

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that this is a big move for PFL as its visibility will ascend tremendously.  Not only will it fill content need for ESPN+ but will air on ESPN2 and TSN in Canada.  One has to think that the new management group helped with the credibility of the promotion and its projected future.  Could the UFC and PFL work together with the PFL becoming a “feeder” league for the UFC and/or UFC fighters participating in the PFL?  We shall see.

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