ESPN+ becomes exclusive provider of UFC PPVs

March 18, 2019

ESPN+ will be the new home for UFC PPV according to an announcement made Monday.  Starting with UFC 236 in April, ESPN+ will become the exclusive distributor in the United States of all PPV events.

The deal will run in the United States through 2025.  The move comes as the UFC attempted to seek lower rates from its satellite and cable distributors.  It negotiated one offs with DirecTV for its past two PPV events this year.  Now, all PPVs will be seen on ESPN+ with the exception of Prelims airing on ESPN and Early Prelim fights which will be seen on UFC Fight Pass and ESPN +.

Along with the news, it announced that the UFC will continue to sell its PPV events to commercial establishments.

Via UFC press release:

In addition to giving MMA fans a one-stop home for all UFC PPV events, ESPN+ pricing and packaging will deliver new value to fans as well:

  • New ESPN+ subscribers will get one-year of ESPN+ and a UFC PPV event for $79.99;
  • Existing ESPN+ subscribers will be able to purchase UFC PPV events for $59.99 per event.

Payout Perspective:

This is a major shift of PPV business for the UFC.  The move is premised upon the company’s popularity in the short time it’s been on ESPN and inability for it to get distributors to budge from the 50/50 revenue split on PPVs.  Since beginning with ESPN+ in January, the UFC has seen an ascension of ratings and visibility due to ESPN’s built-in audience of sports fans.  This move is a gamble that both hopes is paid off with higher buy rates for UFC events.  It also centralizes the company’s revenue to ESPN+ PPVs.  The move also lengthens the UFC’s relationship with ESPN and reflects the approval the network has for bringing it subscribers.

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