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ESPN Reaches 5 Year $1.5 Billion Agreement For UFC Events

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  • ESPN Reaches 5 Year $1.5 Billion Agreement For UFC Events

    ESPN to broadcast 30 UFC events per year during 5-year deal

    ESPN and the UFC have agreed to a five-year deal that will bring the mixed martial arts league's entire rights package to ESPN in 2019.

    This new agreement, which was announced on Wednesday, follows a deal announced earlier this month between ESPN and the UFC.

    The entire rights package will cost $1.5 billion over the length of a five-year deal, according to ESPN and multiple reports. Variety first reported the agreement on Wednesday morning.

    The deal consists of 30 UFC Fight Night events per year, including 10 main cards on ESPN's television networks. The other 20 will stream on ESPN+, the company's newly launched streaming service.

    UFC Fight Night events consist of 12 bouts.

    Additionally, ESPN networks will air preliminary bouts prior to 12 pay-per-view events in 2019.

    "ESPN's unparalleled multimedia platform is the perfect home for the UFC and will deliver tremendous value to both parties," ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro said. "UFC fans are passionate and loyal and we plan to bring the full power of ESPN's live coverage, powerful storytelling and unmatched distribution to serve them in an unprecedented fashion."

    "Every year for the last 18 years, we've done something to take the sport to another level, and we did it again with this deal," UFC president Dana White said. "It's massive on so many different levels. We're on what everyone looks at as the world leader in sports."

    Fox Sports, the UFC's exclusive rights partner since 2011, was originally interested in staying in business with the UFC until NBC declined its option to match for WWE's "SmackDown Live" and Fox won those rights instead.

    The domestic television deal with ESPN should bring further stability to the UFC's profits, as it has historically relied heavily on a pay-per-view model. That model is volatile, due to the possibility of proven stars losing or retiring and injuries, among other factors.

    "We are ecstatic about the deal, we are ecstatic about the partner and we are ecstatic about the platform," added Mark Shapiro, co-president of WME-IMG, which owns the UFC.
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