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ESPN Inks Deal with UFC for Entire Television Package Worth $1.5 Billion

Discussion in 'General MMA Forum' started by ATJ-Lucko, Apr 17, 2018.

  1. ATJ-Lucko

    ATJ-Lucko Champ-Champ MMA Pick 'Ems World Champion

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    Rivals ESPN and Fox Sports have teamed up to bid for television rights for Ultimate Fighting Championship.

    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.

    Representative for ESPN, Fox Sports, and Endeavor declined to comment.

    For ESPN, a UFC deal would provide premium live-event content for the fledgling ESPN+ service not currently available on the company’s linear cable channels. ESPN+ launched last week at $4.99 per month with a mix of content including select games from MLB, NHL and out-of-market MLS games. UFC could mark the first significant deal for Kevin Mayer, who was recently promoted to run a direct-to-consumer unit at ESPN parent company Disney, and the network’s new president, James Pitaro.

    Endeavor has reportedly sought $300-$400 million per year in a new television package. The agency acquired UFC in 2016 for roughly $4 billion with private equity firms Silver Lake Partners and KKR — part of an aggressive push into original sports content. While still known as WME, Endeavor bought sports agency IMG in 2013 for $2.3 billion and bought Professional Bull Riders in 2015 for a reported $100 million.

    But potential network partners have balked at the high asking price to televise UFC, which also distributes fight events through its own pay-per-view and OTT platforms. UFC has suffered significant ratings declines in recent years. In 2017, Fox’s Saturday-night broadcasts fell 22% in average total viewers from the previous year at just under 2 million. “UFC Fight Night” on FS1 averaged 795,000 viewers, down 17%.

    Fox signed a seven-year television deal with UFC in 2011, and late last year put in a roughly $200 million bid to secure those rights — far lower than the Endeavor asking price. A joint deal with ESPN would keep Fox in business with UFC at a time of transition for the company, which is in the process of selling the bulk of its entertainment divisions to Disney.

    An exclusive negotiation period between UFC and Fox expired late last year; the MMA league has explored options from handing over the rights to a traditional network like Fox or one of the growing number of tech giants who have displayed an increased appetite for sports rights over the past 12 months. Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel has also considered holding onto the rights and distributing over the league’s own streaming service, a possibility that received renewed speculation last month when Endeavor spent $250 million to acquire streaming provider NeuLion.

    While Fox and Disney have fought each other in years past to secure various U.S. TV sports packages, UFC would not mark the first league to which these rivals have shared rights. Both companies currently split rights to several leagues including Big Ten Conference, MLS and Pac 12 football.

    A post-acquisition 21st Century Fox would consist of a slimmed-down Fox Sports, Fox News, and a Fox Broadcasting uncoupled from its lucrative television studio counterpart. The company, referred to as New Fox internally, is expected to be driven primarily by sports and news programming.

    http://variety.com/2018/tv/news/espn-fox-sports-ufc-bid-1202755660/
     
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  2. disposableassassin

    disposableassassin Mutatis Mutandis Site Donor

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    I haven't had cable since before the fox deal soooo whoooop deee doooooooo
     
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  3. SandyWH

    SandyWH CHAOS KREATOR

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    Is that Bellator HW Roy Nelson used to promote a UFC story?
     
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  4. thumper

    thumper Picogrammy Staff Member

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    yeah but my bet is they just went to getty and picked it up. they license all that shit.

    UFC better take this deal. but holy shit that's going to hurt. losing big fox, relegated to a new network that isn't even available in lots of places and people would have to sign up for adding $? wow.

    So now you'll have to sign up for a new service.... to get less fights?
     
  5. Anchorpunch

    Anchorpunch Well-Known Member Site Donor

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    If you ever decide you want it, I like YoutubeTV. It gives me unlimited recordings, Fox Sports, etc. for 30/month I think.

    But, really, I just want the UFC to co-air on Fight Pass for a slightly higher monthly costl
     
  6. thumper

    thumper Picogrammy Staff Member

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    By the way, I won't be watching the other stuff except on streams. but that being said, I don't want them to leave FOX. even the FS1 stuff had great production. I don't know about ESPN but they've really been sucking in revenue lately firing a shitload of staff. I just don't want to see bad production.

    IF this went well and this network thing worked out I'd pay the 5 bucks to get the new network i suppose but man of my they're going downhill with this stuff.

    Did that deal even mention TUF? that mean it's over?
    --- Post Added -- Apr 17, 2018, ---
    been thinking about doing this. I pay $200 for fucking cable/internet right now. I got it for he first time in 5 years. i had previously not had cable at all, but this cost is insane. if I can get the YT stuff worked out i might do that. I'm just not sure. i've been considering dropping fight pass already

    I already pay Hulu 43+ and Netflix I think 12. this is getting crazy
     
  7. Poindexter

    Poindexter Reputation: ∞ Staff Member

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    In terms of what they were paid previously, is it less?
     
  8. thumper

    thumper Picogrammy Staff Member

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    no it's more. they were at 120m with FOX and this is for 200m right? maybe I'm confused. they claimed they wanted a minimum of 300m and thought it was valued at 400m.

    but this isnt a done deal anyway. i just can't imagine them saying no. although they aren't going to be pleased that none of it is on big fox.

    so they're losing TUF? it's been pointless except for a few seasons, for a long time anyway. but man, fs1 would then be the fox cream of the crop all the way around. then relegated to friggin ESPN+ which isn't even online yet? wow. this is a downgrade of huge proportions
     
  9. Poindexter

    Poindexter Reputation: ∞ Staff Member

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    Isn't it Fox Sports for 200 million plus ESPN potentially 180 million? Total: 380 million?
     
  10. thumper

    thumper Picogrammy Staff Member

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    is that what it is? maybe i don't get the number. I'll look at it again. i'm remote now. i thought I saw 200m total

    EDIT: shit you're right. so that's a huge increase. that doesn't make sense tough. they're going to double the price total and be sent to lower networks? that's strange.

    if that's really the number the UFC will take that shit i bet.

    if so that means we'll be getting awesome production which is all i care about.

    what shocks me is theyd get 380 m with the tanking FS 1 stats

    the other thing, is Ari just bought neulion which is fight pass streaming. so i really assumed they would be moving there. wonder how that will all play out now

    there's a big piece of the puzzle missing somewhere. those kinds of rating drops and tripling the cost? it doesn't make sense.

    fuck i hope this deal happens. keeping it off fight pass is the best thing possible
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018
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  11. ATJ-Lucko

    ATJ-Lucko Champ-Champ MMA Pick 'Ems World Champion

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    wonder who gets the Canadian rights to the ESPN+ streaming service, this is so fucked up, so i have to go through more hoops to pirate this shit.
    How many people are gonna use ESPN streaming to watch a UFC event? i am guessing only the hardcore, casual fans are not gonna sign up.
     
  12. disposableassassin

    disposableassassin Mutatis Mutandis Site Donor

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    I'm perfectly happy paying for Netflix and Hulu while using my cell phones hot spot instead of Wi-Fi. I never have time to watch anything anyway. I work construction/demolition during the day and at gamestop during the night. I'm barely home anymore.
     
  13. SandyWH

    SandyWH CHAOS KREATOR

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    Ad revenue is still the variable that no streaming service or non-basic cable outlet can contend with.

    A $180M for ESPN+ is a good deal on the surface. But when you realize that the ad revenue that UFC has likely gotten a piece of in the network deal (probably in the 15-50% range since they currently handle the production), and the financial benefits that a major network deal has on UFC's sponsors then it might not be that nice of a deal.

    The upfront dollars could double, but they could see a 50% in revenue from the "hidden" dollars if they make the deal.

    Would Modello or Bud Light or Toyota or whoever still pay upwards of several million per year to UFC for sponsorships if they are on FS1 and ESPN Streaming?
    Would they be able to leverage Netflix, YouTube, TruTV, or whoever about "related content" (i.e. Looking for a fight, TUF, Ultimate Knockouts, etc)?

    All of those factor into taking a step back just for the upfront cash.
    Would you rather be the $10M QB for the Browns or the $7M QB for the Patriots?
     
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  14. thumper

    thumper Picogrammy Staff Member

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    i wonder how much they lost by losing big bud as a sponsor. that had to really hurt and those numbers are way down.

    something just doesn't look right. they had way lower numbers than predicted, and fell off even harder at the end. so they get a 380m moving to a lower tier network and an upstart? it just doesn't make sense.

    I hope it's right though. i don't want this shit all going to fight pass. that's all i'm worried about. if ESPN and FOX are doing production it'll be top shelf.
     
  15. Kevo

    Kevo SMOKE BOMB!

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    Would you pay $20 a month to get everything they do through a UFC streaming service? Similar to what WWE does, but more expensive.
     
  16. Poindexter

    Poindexter Reputation: ∞ Staff Member

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    I think I just might.
     
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  17. Kevo

    Kevo SMOKE BOMB!

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    Would you pay $30 or $40?

    Every ppv every card, period. And all the old stuff too
     
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  18. Poindexter

    Poindexter Reputation: ∞ Staff Member

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    Damn it, why you gotta raise the price already?
     
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  19. Kevo

    Kevo SMOKE BOMB!

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    Trying to establish the price point.
     
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  20. Poindexter

    Poindexter Reputation: ∞ Staff Member

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    I couldn't do thirty. $20 would be basically for convenience.
     
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