UFC Owners Lean Towards ESPN For Their Next TV Deal, Yet Three Platforms Express Interest

The UFC reportedly wants to stay with ESPN for its next TV deal, but three other platforms are in the running. 

The UFC signed a deal with ESPN in 2018, which runs out in 2025. Under the agreement, UFC fights are shown exclusively on ESPN, including PPV bouts, in a deal worth a reported $1.5 billion. But with less than one year remaining, the UFC is looking at its next steps. The President of TKO Group Holdings Inc., Mark Shapiro, says numerous parties are interested in securing UFC rights. 

“It is our preference to stay at Disney, because of this history. But we’ve had impromptu three different platforms inquire about that window that you’re talking about and when we might be able to sit down with them to discuss moving to a different platform, which we will do if we can’t get the right deal. But the window opens in January. There’s no reason we can’t start talking about it earlier,” Shapiro said

Shapiro remained silent over which platforms were interested. However, the rise of streaming platforms offers many alternatives. DAZN has ventured into boxing, leaving no reason why it cannot do the same with the UFC. Amazon Prime Video has also inked a multi-year deal with PBC for their boxing events.

Meanwhile, Netflix enters boxing for the first time with Jake Paul vs Mike Tyson on July 20. The platform has also inked a $5 billion deal for WWE’s Monday Night Raw for the next ten years. The UFC’s preference is still to remain with ESPN. 

“ESPN and Disney are the greatest partners you could ever have. If we can replicate that at Netflix [with WWE], we’re going to be golden. They get the sport. They’re fans of the sport. It was Bob Iger, frankly, that saw the vision.

“It was his decision to go bite off all the UFC, including the pay-per-views, but [ESPN chairman] Jimmy Pitaro and Burke Magnus and [Rosalyn] Durant, who now runs programming, are huge fans of the UFC and they support it in every way,” Shapiro added

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