UFC Eyes Flexible Broadcast Deals, May End PPV

The UFC is willing to explore all possibilities for its next TV deal, including ending any PPV model. 

The UFC inked an ESPN deal in 2018, which will expire in 2025. Under the contract, UFC fights are shown exclusively on ESPN. However, customers must pay for ESPN+ and an additional fee to watch PPV cards. The deal is worth a reported $1.5 billion. With the deal set to expire soon, the UFC is open to all possibilities.

The UFC has an exclusive negotiating position with ESPN, which begins in January. However, they can listen to other offers too. Prior to signing with ESPN, TKO Group Holdings President Mark Shapiro admitted the UFC was close to signing a deal with Amazon.

Shapiro revealed the UFC has outgrown the ESPN deal, although they are open to extending it if the terms are right. Any new deal could see a broadcaster pay a substantial sum to the UFC for its rights and for the PPV package. Customers would then pay a monthly subscription, as the PPV fights would be streamed. This is similar to what Netflix has done for the Jake Paul vs. Mike Tyson fight.

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“We love the neighbors on ESPN, those that lead into us and those that lead out of us. Having said that, we have grown into a position where we are now under-monetized. That’s just a fact. Not when we did the deal. It was a record deal, very exciting, it was triple what we were getting at FOX. But we are now under-monetized, given the viewership, given the ratings, given the demos, and we look forward to having those conversations.

“We will be flexible so we are giving any perspective partner or current partner the best programming for the most ideal windows so that they can grow their base and retain their [subscriptions]. Very important. We want to be accommodating because it has to both ways. We need these platforms to grow our audience, to grow our brand, to grow our followers globally. They need us for acquisition and retention and price hikes. It should be a very healthy marriage,” Shapiro said

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