Earlier this week, it was officially revealed that the UFC had reached a five-year, $1.5 million deal with ESPN to bring its full television rights package to the worldwide leader in sports.
There were many critics of the five-year, $300 million per year deal deal, but UFC President Dana White predictably is already sick of hearing about it. Speaking on the deal, which will be put into effect in January 2019, earlier today (May 26, 2017), White couldn’t contain his excitement:
“That’s what the idiots are always going to do. ‘Is it good, is it bad?’” White told MMAjunkie. “Our last deal (with FOX) was $116 million a year. This one is $300 million. If you can’t figure out that that’s good, get outta here. I’ve been in Maine blowing my brains out for three days celebrating. That’s how good it is.”
For the last seven years, FOX Sports has been the UFC’s television partner and with a major change now coming, questions have begun to arise in regards to the number of cards that will take place, the type of content that will be produced and so on.
As far as events go, White confirmed that 42 total cards per year will take place under the partnership with ESPN, with 10 being televised, 20 being streamed on ESPN+, the company’s new app, and 12 being broadcasted on pay-per-view:
“That’s exactly right: 42 shows,” White said. “I have the ability to make some original content for those guys too, and it’s going to be awesome. ESPN wouldn’t cover us; now we’re on ESPN. Anybody who doesn’t think this is a win, just shut up. Stop covering the sport if you think this isn’t a win.”
With events now set to stream on ESPN+, many have wondered if the end of the road has come for Fight Pass, the UFC’s online streaming service, but White has confirmed that the platform will remain intact, specifically for the international audience:
“Fight Pass will be the destination where the entire library is, and you can watch whatever fight you want too or whatever other content we have on there,” White said. “So that’ll be the same. And this ESPN deal is U.S. (only). So, Fight Pass is the rest of the world.”
White also commented on The Ultimate Fighter, admitting that 2018 might host the final season of the reality show:
“We don’t know yet,” White said. “We’re coming up on the latest season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ We don’t know. It might be the last one. 13 years, ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ has gone. It’s incredible.”
What do you make of the UFC/ESPN deal?