UFC, ESPN Partner for Five-Year, $1.5 Billion Rights Deal

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"ORCRP016911-topic.html" class="local_link" >WWE's "SmackDown Live" pro wrestling in a five-year-deal said to be worth $205 million annually, leaving ESPN to acquire the remainder of its UFC package with another reported $150 million-per-year deal.

The deal is set to begin in early 2019, and includes both the previously announced agreement to bring fights to ESPN's new over-the-top offering ESPN+ as well as live shows on the cable network.

The UFC's next event with FOX takes place Sunday with UFC Fight Night 130. Preliminary cards for network cards will be streamed on ESPN Plus. Plus will offer 20 exclusive events and all preliminary fights for "UFC on ESPN Fight Night" programs.

"ESPN's unparalleled multimedia platform is the flawless home for the UFC and will deliver tremendous value to both parties", ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement.

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Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN President and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks said, "ESPN's unparalleled multimedia platform is the flawless home for the UFC and will deliver tremendous value to both parties". UFC President Dana White told MMAJunkie a year ago that the show, "can go on forever" and "is always going to be relevant".

In its announcement, ESPN said the acquisition will mean that "the only destination where fans can watch all UFC programming is the ESPN app, and in the future, the full breadth of content will be available on ESPN+", its recently launched $4.99 per month (or $49.99 per year) subscription streaming service.

Fox is exiting the UFC business after spending well north of $1 billion on a new WWE deal.

The network reportedly reached a deal with the wrestling behemoth to move its "SmackDown" program over to Fox starting in December 2019 for $1 billion. It was also rumored that the UFC hoped to ink a lengthier deal, but ESPN instead signed on for a five-year contract with the promotion.

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FOX investing in WWE programming will apparently bring an end to its relationship with the UFC.

The UFC's online platform, Fight Pass, still will be available.

UFC President Dana White called the agreement with ESPN a "monumental day for UFC, our athletes, and our fans".

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