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NBCU, Facebook Punch Ticket With Pro Fighters League

NBCUniversal and Facebook have signed multiplatform distribution agreement to distribute programming from the Professional Fighters League.

At the same time, the PFL named Peter Murray as CEO. Murray has previously been with Under Armour and the National Football League.

Related: Media Titans Hill, Fahey Climb into Ring for Professional Fighters League

The PFL presents mixed martial arts over the course of a season, with team-sports like standings, playoffs and a champion named at the end. The league is promising a $10 million prize poll for the playoffs, with the winners of each of six weight divisions awarded $1 million.

The agreement with NBCU and Facebook will allow 300 million MMA fans to watch every PFL fight live on TV, tables, smartphones and other connected devices, the league said.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

"Today is an enormous step forward for the PFL and our mission of re-imagining and growing the sport of MMA," said Russ Ramsey, executive chairman of the Professional Fighters League. "We're thrilled to offer broad distribution for our first season, with great media partners in NBC Sports Network and Facebook. Pete Murray is an accomplished marketer and builder in sports and media, making him the ideal leader to deliver the innovative experience to MMA fans and build the PFL brand.” 

Within the United States, NBC Sports Group will establish an exclusive live Thursday night PFL fight franchise, presenting seven regular-season live events in prime time on NBCSN beginning June 7 through the end of August. Events televised by NBCSN will also stream on and the NBC Sports app. All regular season events will have encore telecasts on NBCSN later the same night.

“We are excited to create a Thursday night destination that will be appointment viewing for MMA fans,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports Group. We look forward to working with Pete and the PFL team on what promises to be a thrilling season.”

Outside the U.S., Facebook will stream up to six hours of free, live coverage for each event. Facebook will also open each event with a live 30-minute pre-fight show and close with a live 30-minute post-fight show.

In the U.S., fans can watch the first three hours of undercard coverage of each event on Facebook prior to NBCSN’s presentation of the main bouts.

“We're excited for Facebook Watch to be a home for the Professional Fighters League's inaugural season,” said Dan Reed, Facebook Head of Global Sports Partnerships. “The PFL's comprehensive coverage on Watch, combined with its plans to deliver an innovative viewing experience, will give MMA fans ample opportunity to come together, talk about, and interact with this exciting new league in ways that are unique to our social video platform.”

Murray will lead the existing PFL executive team which includes Carlos Silva, President; George Greenberg, Executive VP; Ray Sefo, Head of Fighting Operations; and Will Blair, Executive VP of Brand Partnerships & Media Sales.

“I am thrilled to work with partners NBC Sports Group and Facebook as we launch the PFL with the format fans love in all other major sports --- with a regular season, win-or-go-home playoffs, and $10 million championship” said Murray, “MMA fighters are the greatest athletes in the world, and the PFL is excited to provide them an opportunity to control their destiny, and have the opportunity to earn the biggest payday of their lives.”  

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.