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Midnight Mania! ESPN, Fox reportedly offer to split UFC network rights

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MMA: UFC Fight Night Phoenix-Poirier vs Gaethje Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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In what could be an important development for where the UFC viewing rights end up, or be nothing at all, Variety reports that ESPN and Fox are teaming up in an offer to split the UFC’s TV rights.

Variety has learned that the two companies have recently proposed to split the UFC TV package in a move that would bring as many as 15 fight events to new subscription streaming service ESPN+.

According to sources with knowledge of the proposal, ESPN has signaled that it would be willing to pay $120-180 million per year to add the Endeavor-owned mixed martial arts league to its collection of live-event rights.

Fox, which currently pays $120 million per year UFC rights, would be willing see that number increase to a little more than $200 million. Fox’s current package includes four Saturday-night fights per year on Fox Broadcasting and a number of fight events on cabler Fox Sports 1 that has increased annually under its current agreement. A joint bid with ESPN would see Fox’s total number of events decline slightly.

ESPN wants the UFC as content for their new ESPN+ streaming platform, which recently launched at subscription price of $4.99 per month. The Variety article noted that the UFC had been looking to get 300-400 million dollars plus for their TV rights, but their falling ratings made that asking price a stretch for prospective buyers. The article noted that TV ratings in 2017 were down 22% for the big Fox cards and down 17% for their fight night cards compared to the previous year. That trend has continued into 2018, with Saturday’s exciting main event offering of Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje getting the third-lowest main event ratings in UFC on Fox history.

The Fox deal was supposed to take the sport to the next level, but the UFC currently draws about the same ratings as it did when it was broadcast on Spike in 2011. With the amount of debt needed for WME-IMG to purchase the UFC for an (at the time) record-breaking amount of more than 4 billion dollars, securing a profitable TV deal is crucial for the new owners.

Perhaps more relevant to fans is the question of where UFC fights will be available to watch. Will fans show the flexibility to move their viewership to additional subscription streaming platforms? What will happen to UFC Fight Pass? Will the UFC water the quality of their fights down further by spreading their roster between various viewing platforms?


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Paulie Malignaggi, creationist.

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Yancy Medeiros vs Mike Perry is booked for UFC 226. _ #ufc #mma

A post shared by (@mmamaniadotcom) on

Lando Vannata hitting the bag

A post shared by Lando Vannata® (@groovylando) on

Clay Guida vs. Bobby Green? Sure, count me in. Green has impressive takedown defense, so this will likely be a showcase for him.

I feel like this is several of you in the comments.

l Who dis?

A post shared by Because jitsu (@because_jitsu) on

Zabit Magomedsharipov hitting pads with one of his heroes, kickboxing legend Sugar Ray Sefo.

Congratulations to Court MgGee.

Jon Jones is still at it hitting pads in his garage.

Here’s a few clips from the other nights extreme pattycake session.

A post shared by Jon Bones Jones (@jonnybones) on

This post by Carlos Condit after losing consciousness, waking up and then tapping to Alex Oliveira in a fight he was quite possibly winning is some real honest stuff. Condit is a man of great class, as always.

In memoriam of the Diaz brother’s crazy brawl eight years ago

Combat sports this weekend

Awesome finishes

It’s not textbook but it worked.

Random Land

Soccer skills

I read this before looking who wrote it

Stay woke, Maniacs! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook @Vorpality

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