May 23, 2018 / 5:42 PM / 5 months ago

ESPN to pay $1.5 billion in five-year Ultimate Fighting Championship rights deal

Disney/ESPN will pay $1.5 billion over five years in its exclusive partnership with the UFC announced earlier this month, according to a Variety report on Wednesday morning.

Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Henry Cejudo (red gloves) fights Sergio Pettis (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The agreement is expected to be announced later on Wednesday, according to ESPN, and will see the network and its ESPN Plus direct-to-consumer platform air 30 events each year, including live UFC Fight Night events. The deal would go into effect in January 2019, after the UFC and FOX complete a seven-year exclusive rights deal signed in 2011.

In what is the first media-rights agreement between ESPN and the UFC, the agreement could include up to 15 live “UFC on ESPN+ Fight Night” events per year, with 12 bouts on each card.

“UFC is a premier global sports property with legions of incredibly avid fans,” ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro said in the early May announcement. “We are excited to be able to bring their world-class events and content to ESPN+ and ESPN Networks. This agreement shows the commitment we have to delivering fans the very best across our entire platform.”

“I couldn’t be more excited to partner with The Walt Disney Company and ESPN on an agreement that will continue to grow our sport. UFC has always done deals with the right partners at the right time and this one is no exception,” UFC president Dana White said then. “We will now have the ability to deliver fights to our young fan base wherever they are and whenever they want. This deal is a home run for ESPN and UFC.”

—Field Level Media

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