A years-long flirtation turned into a valid pact at 2018.

The UFC and ESPN, who’d been circling another for a little while, finally teamed up in earnest. The greatest MMA promotion in the world signed a streaming and broadcast U.S. distribution bargain with the largest sports network in the world in might. The scope of the contract was enormous — $1.5 billion over five decades. The bargain begins Jan. 1 and the UFC and ESPN together will now shape the potential for mixed fighting styles to the foreseeable future.

Whenever the UFC abandoned Spike television for FOX Sports at 2011, it had been groundbreaking for its sport. It indicated that a movement toward the conventional. The UFC would be on network tv — in primetime — multiple times each year. MMA turned into a stalwart for FOX Sports 1, Rupert Murdoch’s counter to ESPN, at 2013.

Under the FOX umbrella, even the UFC turned into a regular, not exactly weekly, presence on tv, perhaps not as the other significant sports. It turned into a familiar portion of satellite tv, if perhaps not fully mainstream. FOX had interest in bringing the UFC back, but eventually chose to bidding for WWE Smackdown, which it snagged for $1.025 million over five decades. Smackdown will broadcast every Friday night on big FOX from October 2019.

Enrolling with ESPN represents a different leveling up to the UFC. The FOX contract was reportedly worth a mean of 100 million over seven decades. That one with ESPN is triple that annually, though perhaps not as far as the UFC educated potential buyers it could command throughout the Fertitta brothers’ purchase process to WME-IMG in 20-16. It remains a major success.

The UFC’s bargain with ESPN comprises 30 UFC Fight Night cards annually. Of these, 10 major cards will broadcast on ESPN’s cable TV networks. The other 20 will stream on ESPN+, also the organization ’s new digital streaming support. ESPN may also broadcast, somehow (digital or cable ), the prelims of this UFC’s 1 2 pay per view events yearly, substantially such as fs-1 did until it.

ESPN represents yet another blue chip brand that the UFC is involved with. It amounts to find major air time on the system ’s magazine and talk shows. While ratings for ESPN are all down, it’s the most influential sports network in the world, with copes with all the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA and much more. ESPN is owned by Disney, which gives the UFC yet another power house partner to work together.

A big question will be how a UFC will fare on the next five years concerning growth. Now, 20 of those struggle cards that used to broadcast on fs-1, drawing tens of thousands of audiences, will probably soon be on the ESPN+ streaming assistance, behind a paywall. It’s not public the number of subscribers that the relatively new ESPN+ streaming agency is now at $4.99 monthly. Will fans who pay $65 per month for payperview events and a second $9.99 monthly for UFC Fight Pass plunk down the extra money?

We’ll begin discovering out that soon. The first UFC on ESPN+ offering is scheduled for Jan. 19 at Brooklyn. It had been obvious the UFC and ESPN wanted to earn a major splash to its first one, as the promotion moved its UFC 233 main event of Henry Cejudo vs. T.J. Dillashaw to its flyweight name to Barclays Center. Eventually, the UFC 233 payperview card was canceled.

Another thing to see in the new year, because the ESPN deal selections up, is that talent out of FOX is likely to make the movement over.

In any event, the UFC has attained a dream that White and Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta place when they bought that the UFC in 2001 — broadcasting along with other significant gambling properties on ESPN. It may happen to be a pipedream 17 decades back, but it is a real possibility.

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