2019 looks to be the biggest year yet for the UFC, and historically, for good reason. It will be the start of a new era as the ESPN deal begins.
Looking back on things, it’s easy to forget how big and different the transition from Spike TV to Fox felt, but it was, in fact, a hell of difference comparatively. It will interesting to see how different things are with this upcoming transition as the UFC goes from their $120 million per year deal with Fox, to their five year $1.5 billion deal with ESPN.
For starters, Fight Night cards will increase to a minimum of 42 events per year (this year and the last gave us 39). Then as for pay-per-views, they will drop one, therefore, going from the general 13, down to 12. Meaning likely one per month. Which, is practically the format currently.
But now, thanks to the new deal, the UFC will be getting a big increase in their revenue for the pay-per-views, reports Sports Business Journal.
“[UFC president Dana White] also has upped the UFC’s share of revenue from its pay-per-views, negotiating the portion taken by distributors from the industry standard of 50 percent down to closer to 30 percent. And when viewers stream the show directly from the UFC’s website or Fight Pass, he cuts out the distributors entirely.”
What this means is, for example, is that the revenue would be evenly distributed by $50 million in pay-per-view revenue as $25 million is for the UFC and $25 million for the pay-per-view providers. The new distribution, however, would be $35 million for the UFC and $15 million for the providers. This is excluding UFC.TV purchases.
Because of this, the UFC doesn’t have great reason to lower their current pay-per-view prices of $65 any time soon.
Along with their fixed license fee for the content that goes onto ESPN and ESPN+, events that draw lower numbers such as the likes of UFC 228 and 230 for more recent examples, will now see more revenue taken in than ever before.
As for if the fighters will benefit from this financially remains to be determined. But unfortunately, it’s probably a safe bet that they won’t unless something has dramatically changed in regards to payouts, guidelines, etc.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 11/14/2018