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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?
Dustin Poirier drilling the counter left he used to rock Justin Gaethje
Inside leg kick counter in the locker room right before we walked out to fight. pic.twitter.com/1UEwupHd7F— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) April 17, 2018
For sure. Good shit, I’ll be back.— Justin Gaethje (@Justin_Gaethje) April 16, 2018
Dustin Poirier donating his fight kit for charity ought to raise thousands, especially after that memorable of a war.
- @DustinPoirier's fight kit from Poirier vs Gaethje is up for auction!— The People's MMA (@ThePeoplesMMA) April 17, 2018
All proceeds go to support women & their children who are experiencing homelessness.https://t.co/fppTGxoNcA#UFC #MMA #WMMA #TeamMMA4LIFE #PeoplesMMA #DustinPoirier pic.twitter.com/qxQanGSXdC
Stipe Miocic would never do what McGregor did, but he understands why McGregor did it. But if he was on the bus when it happened?? Game over.
Paulie Malignaggi, creationist.
More fictional than the universe, this solar system, this planet, the sun and all came about by a "big bang"? N then after that all life evolved slowly from matter? If anything the cat in the hat is more believable than that— Paul Malignaggi (@PaulMalignaggi) April 17, 2018
Make it happen, Pharrell. Don’t listen to Bazooka Joe.
Pharrell is trying to turn muay thai shorts into a fashion statement. pic.twitter.com/5mFoVpnZJ4— Justin Golightly (@SecretMovesMMA) April 16, 2018
But can he take a low kick? @Pharrell https://t.co/cDK2LMGNZJ— Joseph Valtellini (@BazookaJoeV) April 17, 2018
Does CM Punk stand a chance against Houston local Mike Jackson? These are the burning questions we must ask ourselves.
Whoops. Always embarrassing.
Mike Perry vs. Yancy Medeiros is just concussion-heavy fun waiting to happen.
Lando Vannata hitting the bag
Clay Guida vs. Bobby Green? Sure, count me in. Green has impressive takedown defense, so this will likely be a showcase for him.
JUST IN: Clay Guida (@clayguida) re-signs with UFC; matchup against Bobby Green (@BobbyKGreen) set for UFC 225 in Chicago (first reported by @Salcido314) #UFC pic.twitter.com/KKQIysyXFw— Nolan King (@mma_kings) April 17, 2018
I feel like this is several of you in the comments.
Zabit Magomedsharipov hitting pads with one of his heroes, kickboxing legend Sugar Ray Sefo.
Congratulations to Court MgGee.
At one time I could not imagine going a day without a drink or drug, today is day 4,384 without, and marks 12 yrs of continuous sobriety. drug free!— Court McGee (@Court_McGee) April 16, 2018
Jon Jones is still at it hitting pads in his garage.
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.
Post choke out, where the fuck am I , WTF happened, feeling kinda warm and fuzzy , hope I didn't just piss my shorts on live TV , thousand yard stare. I've posted plenty of pictures looking like a Badass. Triumphant and powerful... But here's the flip side, crumpled and weak in defeat. Rough day at the office Fuck it though, I had fun. I trained my ass off and I came to fight. This is what leaving it all out there looked like on Saturday. Much respect to my opponent and his team. Thank you for taking the fight on short notice. Congratulations and best of luck in the future. I don't know what's next guys... I still love this game, and most days I still feel that fire, I absolutely love what it do, but maybe my time has passed. I don't know the answer. this is what I know, this is my passion. I will never stop training, and If that leads me back to the the octagon, you know I'll try to make it bloody for ya. Right now I'm looking forward to summer shenanigans with my sons and to expanding @hundredhandscoffee .
In memoriam of the Diaz brother’s crazy brawl eight years ago
Happy eighth birthday to one of the dumbest, ridiculous and hilarious moments in history, the Nashville Brawl, which in so many ways detailed on @BtwnRounds today, presaged Strikeforce's bad luck and dismal future. https://t.co/4qIU2hls0b— Jordan Breen (@jordanbreen) April 17, 2018
Combat sports this weekend
Live Combat Sport Schedule: 4/18 - 4/22— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) April 17, 2018
Full schedule here: https://t.co/CkJKhIPuOr pic.twitter.com/LRYDeABxg8
The @_PANCRASE_ 295 event from this past weekend delivered some unique finishes. This highlight reel includes a Head Kick KO, Armbar, Heel Hook, Crucifix Neck Crank & Slam KO @sfultonMMA pic.twitter.com/IIOZQrPUEA— Focus Fights (@FocusFights) April 17, 2018
It’s not textbook but it worked.
I read this before looking who wrote it
Woman on plane retrieving her luggage in the overhead:— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) April 16, 2018
"Who's skateboard is this? It's blocking my bag"
me: that's mine, you can pass it here
her: "It's yours? You ride it?
her: "Are you any good at it?"
her: cackles maniacally, exits plane
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