Report: Fox Sports and ESPN bidding together for the UFC's domestic rights package

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Variety is reporting that rival cable networks ESPN and Fox Sports are reportedly bidding together to split the UFC’s domestic television rights package.

The outlet reports that the two networks would split the events with ESPN committing $120-180 million per year with up to 15 live events earmarked for the recently launched ESPN+ streaming platform. Fox Sports would be willing to increase their annual rights fee for UFC programming to just above $200 million with a slight reduction in live events than their previous deal, which expires at the end of 2018.


If the UFC can secure a split rights deal with the two networks and increase their domestic television rights to $320-380 million per year, it will be an enormous increase over their current domestic rights.

ESPN+ would appear to become the focus of the UFC’s streaming efforts ahead of Fight Pass, which was launched in January 2014.

Variety noted that officials from ESPN, Fox Sports, and Endeavor would not comment on the story.

I still don’t see the value of ESPN+, even if ESPN were to acquire exclusive UFC content. I can’t see anyone but the most hardcore MMA fans being drawn to the same basic content that Fight Pass currently offers…or even less.

The current hook of ESPN+ is the full “30-for-30” VOD archive, but the live programming isn’t anything worth paying for.

This, in my opinion, is the next step in the evolution of sports television rights fee packaging. Not just interesting, but simple and logical as well.

I agree in that it’s a good step towards streaming platforms supplanting (or at least disrupting) traditional cable TV, but I disagree with what ESPN+ has initially offered at launch, so perhaps that’s why I’m sour on this particular news.

And yet they’re ratings are shit…hence my point of ratings nor meaning jack shit is validated yet again.