The pay-per-view price for a UFC event has recently been increased from $69.99 to $74.99.
It’s been much more expensive to be an MMA fan in the US these days, as this also marked the third PPV price hike since 2019. That pay-per-view price is also paid on top of a $6.99 monthly ESPN+ subscription, which was also increased for the second time last year.
Dana White, who recently boasted about having a massive 2021 where they broke all their financial records, said this is a decision made by ESPN, not the UFC.
“We don’t have any say in that,” White said at UFC Vegas 46’s post-fight press conference (transcribed by MMA Fighting). “We gave the pay-per-views to ESPN, so yeah, that’s their decision. You know how I feel about that stuff. I don’t love when prices get raised, but it’s not my decision. It’s theirs.”
While White washed his hands on the price hike, it’s also worth putting more context to the numbers behind this decision.
The way the UFC’s deal is structured has ESPN paying them more each year, with reported annual increases of roughly around 5%. This contracted revenue also plays a part on why the UFC keeps breaking their financial records each year since the ESPN deal started.
According to Morgan Stanley, UFC’s US domestic media rights are projected to rise from around $295 million in 2021 to $308 million in 2022. ESPN in turn will naturally find a way to try and recoup these increasing payments.
Technically, it’s indeed not the UFC’s call, but with the way the ESPN deal was set up, the PPV (and ESPN+) price hike has not only been expected, it seems almost inevitable.