The current television rights contract between UFC and Fox Sports has slightly more than a half-year before it comes to end, but the recent announcement of a multi-year agreement between UFC and ESPN+ means that the current partnership with Fox Sports will not be extended. The new deal will see UFC working closely with Walt Disney Company. A decade ago, this union would have sounded ludicrous, but this is a different case in 2018. Some people say there are crossover possibilities for Mulan and Rose Namajunas, Mickey Mouse and Mighty Mouse, and Demian Maia & Yoda. This deal is estimated to be worth of $150 million annually, according to the Sports Business Daily. This information also highlighted by many UFC betting companies.
Negotiations are still going on in regards to promotion deal between the UFC and the three companies; NBC Sports, Fox Sports and Turner Sports. These three media giants are all said to be running for this lucrative deal. However, many regular viewers feel that the latest UFC deal was a bit lackluster. The deal has shown that sports executives pay more attention on the brand, which means we should expect more heady days in the future at the UFC offices. UFC expects the new relationship with ESPN will provide exposure for its events and athletes. Historically ESPN gives more coverage through its mothership station to the sports it has invested in.
ESPN is currently available in more than 80 million homes across United States, according to the popular magazine The Hollywood Reporter. This makes ESPN the top tastemaker for most the American sports. UFC executives have estimated that the deal will bring more money into the game, which in some way they’re right. With this deal and more that are yet to come, it’s quite clear the UFC’s coffers will burst. However, many people are waiting to see of these changes will help or hurt the fans. During the announcement, UFC confirmed that ESPN has clinched the deal that will see their audience pay $4.99 monthly, which also will come with live stream of 15 events annually.
According to some reliable sources with knowledge about the specifics, the shows will cover each event from the preliminaries all the way to the main event. What this means for most of us is that we are likely to see a decrease on Fight Pass. However, the Fight Pass will continue to host some live cards every year and fans are expected to make a decision on how to invest their entertainment dollars. Come January, fans will have to decide on the best option that suit them whether spend $9.99 on the Fight Pass, $65 on the pay-per-view or $4.99 on the ESPN+. However, $4.99 seems to be more reasonable for many to catch someone like Justin Gaethje, Brian Ortega or Francis Ngannou.
UFC and ESPN+ have made their bet and its now the fans to make decision on how they want to spent their cash. It’s expected that some people will become disillusioned when they know that they’ll have to make decision between sticking to the cable-only or opting for network shows. At this point its hard to tell how fans will react, but the day of reckoning is definitely coming.