ESPN Secures PPV Distribution Rights for UFC Events

ESPN will now be the exclusive distributor of UFC pay-per-view events as part of a new multi-year agreement reached between the two parties.

ESPN, only three months into its five-year, $1.5 million dollar deal with the mixed martial arts outfit, has extended its agreement through 2025, which now takes the UFC's monthly PPV events in house for its streaming ESPN+ service, beginning with the April 13 UFC 236:Holloway vs Poirier 2.

“Today’s announcement further establishes the strength of the partnership between UFC and ESPN,” said UFC President Dana White in a statement. “Now our fans will be able to watch all UFC events exclusively on ESPN platforms, including ESPN+, which is an innovative way to deliver fights to our young fan base. I couldn’t be more excited to work with ESPN for the next seven years. Together we’re going to do amazing things to help grow this sport.”

The original five-year, $1.5 billion deal between ESPN and UFC launched in January, provided ESPN with exclusive access to 30 live UFC events a year -- 20 of which will run on the sports network’s $4.99 subscription service ESPN+ -- along with the ability to sell PPV events along with industry distributors such as In Demand and DirecTV.

While neither ESPN nor UFC officials would reveal how many buys ESPN drew with three UFC PPV events so far this year, the network was still able to secure full rights to all PPV events going forward.

“With the addition of UFC PPV events, we are making ESPN+ an absolute must-have for any fan of the UFC and mixed martial arts,” said Kevin Mayer, chairman, Direct-to-Consumer & International, The Walt Disney Company. “In less than a year, ESPN+ has established itself as the leader in direct-to-consumer sports and this new programming agreement adds a significant business to our platform while reinforcing the value and strength of our product and our content lineup.”

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.