According to a new report, ESPN and FOX will be joining to make an offer to obtain UFC TV rights with the poster of the MMA promotion events being divided between the two networks. ESPN will be willing to contribute between 120 to 180 million per year for part of the UFC television rights with plans to put up to 15 events per year on its new ESPN + broadcast service that was launched last week.
However, FOX set aside its decision to pursue the UFC to go after an agreement with WWE. However, SmackDown Live will be broadcast by Fox, as reported by ESPN and the agreement will start in October 2019. WWE is entering a new era of profitability through new television contracts with USA Network and Fox Network. The company’s stock hit a record high earlier this week.
The new agreements will become effective as of October 2019 and will cover the period between October 1, 2019, and September 30, 2024. A recent report by Wrestling Observer has revealed new details about WWE’s new television contracts.
Fox had been negotiating a possible agreement with the UFC at the same time they were negotiating with the WWE. The Network had a budget of 200 million to work after the live programming and had submitted offers for the UFC and the WWE. The agreement they signed with the WWE is estimated at 4 million per week or 205 million annually.
After the agreement to take Smackdown to Fox was completed, the network moved away from negotiations with the UFC.
“UFC played chicken with FOX and lost,” said an anonymous television expert.
The Sports Business Journal reported that Fox wanted an exclusive agreement with UFC but was willing to negotiate an agreement that will involve other networks only at a price of 10 million per exhibition.
ESPN published the following statement about its new agreement with UFC:
“ESPN’s unparalleled multimedia platform is the perfect home for the UFC and will deliver tremendous value to both parties,” ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. “UFC fans are passionate and loyal and we plan to bring the full power of ESPN’s live coverage, powerful storytelling, and unmatched distribution to serve them in an unprecedented fashion. We can’t wait to get started.”