It’s going to be even more expensive to be a UFC fan now.
According to a report from the Sports Business Journal, the UFC’s pay-per-view price will be increased yet again, going from $74.99 to $79.99. After already seeing an increase in 2022, this latest price hike will start on January 2023, with UFC 283.
Disney, according to the report, says the increase reflects “the value of ESPN+ and the popularity and quality of UFC events.”
This would mark the fourth PPV price increase since the UFC struck a lucrative deal with ESPN, with the pay-per-view price going from $59.99 in 2019 to $79.99 in 2023. That still doesn’t include the monthly ESPN+ subscription on top of that, which started from $4.99 in 2019, and has pretty much doubled to $9.99 since.
During the start of the ESPN deal in 2019, if an MMA fan bought all 13 PPVs and paid for the monthly subscription, it would cost them $839.75 for the year. In 2023, that total would now be at $1159.75 — if they don’t increase the ESPN+ subscription price for the entire year.
As Disney mentioned, the UFC has been a very popular and highly lucrative property. Figures have previously revealed that the UFC now makes over $1 billion a year, and is expected to keep growing.
Dana White previously tried to wash his hands of the constant PPV price increases, saying UFC isn’t to blame as that call is made by ESPN/Disney executives. As we discussed during their last increase though, it isn’t quite that simple.
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.
That guaranteed figure of over $300 million that UFC gets for 2022 is expected to be even bigger in 2023.
The promotion still broke their financial records in 2022, even with their normal top draws such as Conor McGregor or Jon Jones being inactive for the year. Majority of that revenue is from contractual deals and set fees they get from ESPN, along with sponsors and other media rights deals.