ESPN is deepening its relationship with UFC, signing a new deal with the MMA promotion that will make ESPN+ the sole access point for UFC’s fights on pay-per-view through 2025.
ESPN’s streaming service will host 12 live events per year, beginning with the April 13 fight between Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier. ESPN first gained sole TV rights to the UFC last year.
“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, Disney’s chairman of direct-to-consumer & international. “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.”
ESPN is already using its new exclusivity to benefit its subscribers. The company will give existing subscribers a discounted rate of $59.99 per event — $20 less than the normal price — while new sign-ups will have to pay $79.99 for the first fight as part of their year-long ESPN+ subscription.
UFC PPV events sold through ESPN+ will include all bouts on the Main Event fight cards and will be streamed in high definition in both English and Spanish. Preliminary bouts for all UFC PPV events will continue to air nationally on ESPN (English) and ESPN Deportes (Spanish) under the agreement announced in 2018.
ESPN launched its streaming service last April, attaining 1 million subscribers within its first five months. In February, the company reached 2 million. In January, ESPN+ debuted its first “UFC Fight Night,” where it added 568,000 subscribers on Friday and Saturday alone, the biggest two-day sign-up stretch (though some of those were via the 7-day free trial).