Nothing is official just yet, but according to some preliminary reports, ESPN might be getting into the UFC business.
If you’ll recall, the UFC’s broadcast deal with FOX is ending soon, which means the premiere MMA organization in the world has been shopping itself around to prospective buyers.
As per Variety, FOX might still keep a chunk of the UFC, but the sports network ESPN wants a piece of the pie, too.
Rivals ESPN and Fox Sports have teamed up to bid for television rights for Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Variety has learned that the two companies have recently proposed to split the UFC TV package in a move that would bring as many as 15 fight events to new subscription streaming service ESPN+.
According to sources with knowledge of the proposal, ESPN has signaled that it would be willing to pay $120-180 million per year to add the Endeavor-owned mixed martial arts league to its collection of live-event rights.
Fox, which currently pays $120 million per year UFC rights, would be willing see that number increase to a little more than $200 million. Fox’s current package includes four Saturday-night fights per year on Fox Broadcasting and a number of fight events on cabler Fox Sports 1 that has increased annually under its current agreement. A joint bid with ESPN would see Fox’s total number of events decline slightly.
More UFC across different networks could be cool, although it could hit us in the wallet a bit more.
However, I can still remember the days when the UFC was banned on pay-per-view, so really, this is all gravy to me.