The UFC will be leaving Fox at the expiration of their seven-year deal, which expires this year. It was reported Tuesday night by Variety that ESPN will land the UFC’s domestic television rights as ESPN will take the entire UFC package away from Fox.
Earlier this month, it was reported that ESPN+ struck a deal with the UFC to stream 15 events per year on their new streaming service at $150 million per year. The deal would also include Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, a new series being developed by IMG, pre and post-fight content, and access to the UFC archives for the service.
John Ourand at Sports Business Journal reports that the newest deal will add an additional 27 events to the ESPN package with five more shows added to ESPN+ for a total of 20 events annually, 10 cards on ESPN’s linear channel, and 12 pay-per-view preliminary cards.
The deals bring a combined $300 million in annual rights fees for the UFC, who had been partners with Fox since 2011 and represents approximately double what Fox was paying in the final year of their pact.
Earlier this year, it had been reported that Fox had placed an offer of $200 million per year for the UFC’s domestic rights. Since that time, Fox has committed over $1 billion to the WWE for the rights to SmackDown over a five-year deal to go into effect in the fall of 2019.
While the total value of the rights falls below many expectations, the UFC being partners with ESPN will represent an enormous amount of coverage for the promotion, which is a noteworthy aspect of this deal. If there is significant coverage for major UFC pay-per-view events, it would represent a hidden value to the deal.
The UFC’s new deal with ESPN will take effect at the start of 2019.