UFC, ESPN+ reach multiyear deal for live fights

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The Walt Disney Company and UFC have reached a multiyear deal to bring exclusive, live UFC Fight Night events to ESPN+, effective January 2019.

ESPN announced the new partnership Tuesday. The deal, which is the first media-rights agreement between ESPN and UFC, calls for 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. “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.”

In addition to live events, ESPN will air UFC content across multiple platforms, including a 30-minute special before every UFC pay-per-view event. Re-airs of previous fights will also be made available on ESPN platforms.

ESPN+ will also carry the UFC’s Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series, beginning in June 2019.

“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,” said White, the UFC president. “UFC has always done deals with the right partners at the right time and this one is no exception. 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.”

The Walt Disney Company launched ESPN+, its direct-to-consumer platform, last month. The UFC will continue to operate its direct-to-consumer platform, UFC Fight Pass, as well.

The UFC is coming off a seven-year, exclusive media rights deal with Fox, which was signed in 2011. That deal placed the UFC on network television for the first time in its relatively young history. The UFC was founded in 1993.

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