Disney, ESPN Strike UFC TV and Streaming Deal



ESPN, the "worldwide leader" in sports, has reached a deal with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to bring Mixed Martial Arts to subscribers of the broadcaster's new streaming service, MMA Junkie is reporting.

Each ESPN+ event will be branded as UFC on ESPN+ Fight Night, and include 12 bouts.

"One of our goals for ESPN+ is to bring sports fans of all genres content they love and are passionate about, and this agreement with UFC is illustrative of exactly that", said Kevin Mayer, the chairman, of the The Walt Disney Company's newly created Direct to Consumer and global division.

Fans can subscribe to ESPN+ for $4.99 a month or $49.99 per year, which delivers content via the ESPN App or ESPNPlus.com.

The UFC is coming off a seven-year, exclusive media rights deal with Fox, which was signed in 2011.

SBD said ESPN will pay $150 million per year over five years for the deal, which covers rights for UFC's digital package.

But the main draw for the network will be the actual UFC cards themselves, which will give ESPN another slate of live events to add to its subscription service.

Dana White, the UFC president, added: "I couldn't be more excited to partner with The Walt Disney Company and ESPN on an agreement that will continue to grow our sport". The promotion now airs four live events per year on FOX's major broadcast network.

According to ESPN, the company will also air UFC content across multiple platforms, including a 30-minute special before every UFC pay-per-view event, as well as re-airs of previous fights. We will now have the ability to deliver fights to our young fan base wherever they are and whenever they want it. In addition to the UFC, the ESPN+ carries events such as baseball, hockey, boxing, college sports, soccer, tennis, rugby and cricket.

In sports and media, this sale has been seen as an early indication of how the decline of traditional cable and the arrival of digital streaming services would affect the market for content. Celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2018, UFC boasts more than 284 million fans worldwide and has produced over 400 events in 21 countries since its inception in 1993.

The agreement goes beyond digital broadcast of events.

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