The UFC announced a dramatic shift in the future of the promotion’s business strategy on Monday, March 18th. PPV is moving to ESPN — at least as far as viewers in the United States are concerned. The UFC joined the Disney-owned network at the start of 2019 after a seven year run on FOX and it’s affiliated channels. While their history with their new broadcast home has been brief, so far the partnership has been a successful one, with a solid uptick in TV ratings and even an apparent bump in PPV buys.
UFC president Dana White announced the move to the new network in a video posted to Twitter.
‼️BREAKING:— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2019
UFC Pay-Per-Views are now available for purchase exclusively through ESPN+ (US Only).
More information here: https://t.co/mFoIKzAoTn pic.twitter.com/HboOBaecZM
“I am very excited to announce that ESPN+ will be the new, exclusive home for UFC PPV events,” White said. “Let me say that again: all UFC PPVs will be available for purchase exclusively through ESPN+. Starting with UFC 236, on April 13th. ESPN+ will deliver the best PPV experience ever, with unrivaled access to live fights. You get replays, archives, originals, and so much more. If you are a UFC fan, ESPN+ is a must have!”
Fans can visit https://plus.espn.com/ufc/ppv for more information.
“With the addition of UFC PPV events, we are making ESPN+ an absolute must-have for any fan of the UFC and mixed martial arts,” said Kevin Mayer, Chairman, Direct-to-Consumer & International, The Walt Disney Company, via press release. “In less than a year, ESPN+ has established itself as the leader in direct-to-consumer sports and this new programming agreement adds a significant business to our platform while reinforcing the value and strength of our product and our content lineup.”
Additionally, White added that the new deal means that American fans will be able to watch all UFC events exclusively on ESPN platforms. As of UFC 235, the promotion’s PPVs still contained early prelim cards that aired exclusively on Fight Pass.
While there’s no definitive update on the UFC’s self contained streaming platform, the press release does note that those early Fight Pass prelims will continue to be available on that platform for the foreseeable future. Additionally, the promotion will continue to sell PPV events to commercial establishments through separate avenues.
New subscribers to ESPN+ will be able to get a one-year subscription to the service, including a single PPV event for the price of $79.99. The service retails for $49.99/year without the additional PPV. For current subscribers, events will be available for purchase at the price of $59.99 per PPV — a $5 price reduction from recent years (although it just so happens that the monthly cost of ESPN+ is also $4.99).
UFC 236: Holloway vs. Poirier 2 will go on sale via ESPN+ on April 8th. Fans can still find links to upcoming UFC PPVs via UFC.tv, UFC.com, and the UFC app, but will be redirected from there to ESPN+. Currently the UFC in partnership with ESPN plans to host twelve PPV events per year on the streaming service.