On Tuesday, ESPN announced it has contracted a streaming deal with mixed martial arts company UFC. The agreement provides ESPN with the rights to stream exclusively 15 UFC events on their ESPN+ platform. This is a collaborative first for both ESPN and UFC.
According to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand, ESPN has committed to paying $150 million a year over five years. The deal means that Amazon, which sells UFC pay-per-view fights, will not be able to stream non-PPV UFC events. ESPN’s UFC events will be branded as “UFC on ESPN+ Fight Night,” the network announced.
“UFC is a premier global sports property with legions of incredibly avid fans,” Disney president Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. “We are excited to be able to bring their world-class events and content to ESPN+ and the ESPN networks. This agreement shows the commitment we have to delivering fans the very best across our entire platform.”
ESPN launched ESPN+, the company’s biggest play in the streaming space, in April. The $5-per-month service up until now featured a daily MLB game, a daily NHL game beginning next season, plus a variety of other smaller leagues including Major League Soccer and international sports.
While the UFC’s TV ratings have declined in recent years, it does provide a younger fan base that could make sense for ESPN’s streaming product. The UFC said millennials account for 40 percent of its audience and its median viewer is 40 years old.