After television listings had leaked online, GLORY confirmed its new agreement with ESPN to MMAmania.com on Thursday (Nov. 5, 2015) after weeks of speculation on what network the kickboxing promotion would land at next, following the departure from Spike TV after a two-year tenure and 14 fight cards.
GLORY 25 aired on ESPN3 at 4 p.m. ET on Friday (Nov. 6, 2015) and later on ESPN2 via tape delay at 1:30 a.m. ET (for complete results recap click here).
ESPN later confirmed to MMAmania.com that the deal was only for the GLORY 25 event and that it would, "take a look at how this event does and go from there."
According to sources close to the kickboxing promotion, GLORY has received verbal confirmation from ESPN on the airing of GLORY 26, which is scheduled for Dec. 4, 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and will be headlined by a Heavyweight title fight between Rico Verhoeven and Benjamin Adegbuyi.
More GLORY news coming down the pipeline: Per sources, the promotion has received verbal confirmation from ESPN on airing of #GLORY26— Michael Stets (@Michael_Stets) November 6, 2015
No financial terms were disclosed by ESPN on Thursday, which led to more speculation and assumptions on social media -- namely Twitter -- that the deal was most likely a time buy. ESPN's recent layoffs and cancellation of the Grantland website were mentioned quite often.
However, that is not the case.
Sources close to the promotion also mentioned to MMAmania.com the deal with ESPN is not a time buy, but is, in fact, a regular television license deal. GLORY has been cutting costs since CEO Jon J. Frankin took over the reigns back in Aug. 2014 -- a time buy would've been uncharacteristic of the promotion's current strategies. Also, it wouldn't have made much sense to do a time buy that close to the event date with little promotion.
The timing and last minute nature of the agreement also came into question. Sources close to the promotion explained that the delay came from ESPN and the heat caused by the layoffs are what held up the announcement. In fact, those troubles -- at one point -- jeopardized the deal altogether. The network apparently wanted some time to pass after the news of the layoffs and cancellation of Grantland were dominating headlines.
Franklin spoke to MMAPlus after the GLORY 25 card on Friday and had this to say about GLORY's plans going forward with ESPN:
"The plan is to have Amsterdam [GLORY 26] air on ESPN and ultimately signing a long-term contract through 2016. We were working in that direction and then they had some management changes over at ESPN and then it all became to get this fight on and bring it to the fans on the best sports network in the world. And we've done that and now we will move forward to hopefully bigger and better things."