ESPN and FOX Sports: joint bid for UFC TV rights deal

An unlikely partnership could be responsible for airing UFC fights next year. According to multiple sources, rival networks ESPN and FOX Sports have teamed up to put in a bid for the UFC’s new TV rights deal. Here are some of the details, per the report:

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.

Representatives from the UFC and the potential TV partners reportedly declined comment. According to the report, as many as 15 UFC events could be included in the ESPN+ subscription streaming service. The service launched this past week and costs $4.99 per month.

Since the deal with FOX began in 2011, it brought in an average of $120 million a year. The current deal ends this year, and the price jumped to $160 million for the final year

In late 2017, FOX reportedly was prepared to make an offer of $200 million a year. But the UFC reportedly wanted $450 million per year. This is nearly three times the peak price under the current deal. The UFC was also considering direct-to-consumer options for its event broadcasts/streams.

For now, though, negotiations are likely to continue behind the scenes with all of the major players

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