The UFC in the Fox Sports era is coming to an end. Variety reported on Tuesday evening that ESPN, which has already received up to 15 live UFC events per year on its new streaming service ESPN +, also announced the TV rights package, which will bring the network an additional 15 combat cards, which will bring from 2019 30 per year.
Sources familiar with negotiations say that ESPN has signed a deal for a second part of the Fox Sports package that will bring the total cost in the neighborhood of $ 300 million a year for five years, a total of 1.5 Billion dollars. The new deals, which comprise a total of 30 bouts, will come into effect in early 2019.
Representatives of ESPN, UFC and Fox Sports could not be reached for comment.
As with their other pact, the events handled under this deal split between the linear channels of ESPN and ESPN +, the new streaming service launched last month.
The article also noted that the UFC will still have pay-per-view events as well as the streaming service UFC Fight Pass live fight cards are being shown on ESPN +. It is not known at this time how many PPVs the UFC will continue under the new agreement, but if there is no reduction, then you still look at more than 40 combat cards a year.
This follows the news that Fox WWE will broadcast SmackDown on a $ 5 billion five-year contract. Interestingly, The Hollywood Reporter then said, "Fox is willing to pay about $ 175 million a year for the MMA promotion." Maybe that was a sign that Fox was ready to move away from the UFC.
It was reported last year that Endeavor was seeking rights for $ 450 million, then a Variety article from April said they wanted to invest somewhere in the $ 300-400 million range. That puts them at the bottom of the pack, but it's still more than twice what FOX is paying them now, and it's a milestone for the UFC to be with the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader in Sports more mainstream coverage and more product attention than what they had with Fox Sports.