ONE signs television deal with Turner Sports

December 11, 2018

ESPN reports that ONE Championship has signed a three-year broadcast deal with Turner Sports.  According to the report by Ariel Helwani, the deal for the Singapore-based company begins on January 1, 2019.

The company will have 24 events to air live on TNT beginning next year and on its digital platforms including B/R Live.  Financial details were not announced.

The first televised event is schedule for January 19, 2019 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The company had promised a North American deal earlier this year.  It has made some significant signings with former UFC fighters including Eddie Alvarez, Demetrious Johnson (technically via “trade”) and most recently Sage Northcutt.  It also signed Miesha Tate as a ONE exec.  With those moves, it seemed as though the company was ready for a big move.

Turner Sports had been in discussions for the UFC media rights and one point and it appears that the company sought to expand its live content.  B/R Live most recently aired the Phil Mickelson-Tiger Woods one on one golf round the Friday after Thanksgiving.  However, the attempt to market it on PPV was a bust with technical glitches causing the match to be aired for free and refunding those that paid $19.99 to watch.

Payout Perspective:

This is an interesting venture for Turner Sports as TNT has a much broader base than Fox Sports or Paramount.  As of this past September, TNT is received in approximately 89.573 million homes.  In comparison, Fox Sports 1, where the UFC currently resides is in 83,290 million homes.  Paramount Network, home of Bellator, is seen in 80,240 million homes.  NBC Sports Network, home of the PFL, is in 83,404 homes. Notably, ESPN, the future home of the UFC, came in at 85,988 million.

 

In my opinion, the signing of ONE Championship is more for the B/R Live digital content than it is for TNT.  The company is trying to expand its digital reach and signing a deal with ONE Championship gets it into the sport.  Aside from its anchor sports of NBA and golf, TNT airs esports on Friday night to steady, but not outstanding ratings.  Yet, it maintained a viewership base of younger viewers.  This will be an interesting signing and we will see if the casual viewer will acclimate to ONE.