ESPN+'s McGregor-Cowboy Event Kicks off Year for PPV Combat Sports Category

Combat sports fans will be treated to two, high-profile pay-per-view events to kick off the New Year.

Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor

ESPN+ on Saturday (Jan. 18) will distribute the return of popular UFC fighter Conor McGregor to the octagon in a main event match against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. The fight, which will retail at $64.99 -- up from $59.99 the UFC charged for its PPV events in the first year of its exclusive PPV distribution deal with ESPN+ -- will be McGregor’s first appearance since October 2018 when he lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov.

The fight is expected to generate major buys for ESPN given the past PPV success of the popular McGregor. His fight with Khabib drew a reported UFC record 2.4 million buys, and he nearly set an all-time PPV buy record in 2017 when his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather generated 4.3 million PPV buys.

In February the PPV category steps into the squared ring for the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury heavyweight boxing championship rematch. The Feb. 22 bout is arguably the most anticipated PPV heavyweight boxing event in a decades -- their first fight in 2018 ended in a draw -- and the combined ESPN and Fox Sports promotional machines will make sure that both hard core boxing fans and causal sports fans are well aware of the first major PPV boxing event of the year.

Both ESPN and Fox Sports have individually stated their intention to deliver several PPV boxing events throughout the year. Add ESPN’s monthly UFC PPV events into the mix, and the PPV combat sports category should generate some knockout business in 2020.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.