BRISTOL - ESPN has reached an agreement with UFC, the popular mixed martial arts organization, to air live events on its new streaming service, ESPN+ - which launched last month - and other platforms.
“One of our goals for ESPN+ is to bring sports fans of all genres content they love and are passionate about, and this agreement with UFC is illustrative of exactly that,” said Kevin Mayer, chairman of Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International, a unit of the Walt Disney Co., which also owns ESPN.
“We look forward to providing UFC’s enthusiastic, growing fan base with a wide array of live events and building a lasting relationship with the industry leader in mixed martial arts.”
The agreement, which was announced Tuesday and will take effect next January, will include 15 live UFC events on ESPN+, a streaming service that costs $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year. It launched on April 12.
Each UFC event will include 12 bouts.
ESPN+ was launched as the cable network has struggled with declining ratings, since many consumers have been dropping cable TV in favor of streaming services.
Last November, ESPN launched a short-form version of SportsCenter on Snapchat, social media app popular among millennials that is known for photos and short video clips.
According to ESPN, UFC has the youngest fan base among major U.S. sports properties, with a median age of 39, and 41 percent of its viewers are between 18 to 34.
“UFC is a premier global sports property with legions of incredibly avid fans,” said Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN president and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks. “We are excited to be able to bring their world-class events and content to ESPN+ and the ESPN networks. This agreement shows the commitment we have to delivering fans the very best across our entire platform.”
UFC president Dana White said, “I couldn’t be more excited to partner with The Walt Disney Company and ESPN on an agreement that will continue to grow our sport. UFC has always done deals with the right partners at the right time and this one is no exception. We will now have the ability to deliver fights to our young fan base wherever they are and whenever they want it. This deal is a home run for ESPN and UFC.”
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.