UFC finds home on Disney’s ESPN+ in ‘groundbreaking new broadcast deal’

The mixed martial arts organisation, UFC has found a home within The Walt Disney Company’s portfolio of broadcasting channels.

Disney’s new direct-to-consumer and international segment, along with ESPN, have reached a multi-year agreement for exclusive live UFC content on ESPN, as well as across a variety of ESPN’s TV, social and digital platforms.

The content will be aired in English and Spanish and will take effect in January 2019.

This marks the first rights and distribution agreement between the two companies and will provide 15 live UFC events to stream exclusively on ESPN+ – the recently launched multi-sport, direct to consumer subscription streaming service.

Each event will be branded ‘UFC on ESPN+ Fight Night’ and will deliver a full card of 12 UFC bouts.

Kevin Mayer, chairman, direct to consumer and international, The Walt Disney Company, said: “One of our goals for ESPN+ is to bring sports fans of all genres content they love and are passionate about, and this agreement with UFC is illustrative of exactly that.

“We look forward to providing UFC’s enthusiastic, growing fan base with a wide array of live events and building a lasting relationship with the industry leader in mixed martial arts.”

Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN president and cop-chairman, Disney Media Networks, added: UFC is a premier global sports property with legions of incredibly avid fans. 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.”

With more than 280 million fans around the world, UFC boasts the youngest fan base among major professional sports organisations in the US with a median age of 40 and an audience comprising 40 per cent millennials.

In addition to the live events and content included in the ESPN+ subscription, fight fans will be able to purchase and watch UFC Fight Pass and UFC PPV events via ESPN+.

ESPN will also bring a variety of content across its linear and digital platforms, including an exclusive 30 minute special on ESPN’s linear networks.

Dana White, UFC president, said: “I couldn’t be more excited to partner with The Walt Disney Company and ESPN on an agreement that will continue to grow our support.

“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 it. This deal is a home run for ESPN and UFC.”

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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