"ORCRP016911-topic.html" class="local_link" >WWE's "SmackDown Live" pro wrestling in a five-year-deal said to be worth $205 million annually, leaving ESPN to acquire the remainder of its UFC package with another reported $150 million-per-year deal.
The double dose of UFC deals comes months after ESPN brought in a new president, James Pitaro, who arrives at a precarious juncture for the Disney behemoth as subscriber declines take their toll on the division's profits. Per the new deal, 30 UFC events will air on various ESPN platforms beginning in 2019.
UFC Fight Night events consist of 12 bouts.
"ESPN's unparalleled multimedia platform is the flawless home for the UFC and will deliver tremendous value to both parties", ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement.
Tyronn Lue jokes about Kyle Korver's age after big Game 4
In Games 1-4, Cavaliers with Korver on and... "He's 37 now? God dang", Lue, who is just four years older than Korver, said.
"Every year for the last 18 years, we have taken this sport and brand to another level", UFC president Dana White said.
Reps from ESPN, UFC and Fox Sports could not be reached for comment.
Sources familiar with negotiations say ESPN has struck a deal for a second portion to the package now held by Fox Sports that will bring the total cost in the neighborhood of $300 million per year for five years, totaling $1.5 billion. TUF 28 will air on Fox Sports 1 in August. "Delivering 20 exclusive UFC fight nights per year and a host of original content to UFC's young, passionate and tech-savvy fan base, makes ESPN+ the clear new digital home for UFC and further establishes our new service as the leading platform for direct-to-consumer sports streaming".
With ESPN bringing over the UFC, it signals an end of the seven-year relationship the mixed martial arts promotion had with FOX. We find innovative ways to promote our athletes and build stars. The UFC still has until the end of 2018 on the FOX family of networks, but the company just recently chose to pay $1 billion for the rights to WWE "Smackdown Live". The future of WWE's flagship program Raw is to be determined.
ESPN Plus is a streaming service available for $4.99 per month. UFC will maintain control of its pay-per-view cards and continue to limit them to 12 per year.