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ESPN is the New Broadcast Partner of the UFC Starting in 2019

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GreenHornet
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05.23.2018 | 10:32 PM ET

Ugh.

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Starting in 2019, UFC programming in the United States will leave FOX and head to ESPN, aka the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.” You might be wondering what this means for the number of cards, the future of UFC Fight Pass, what the ESPN/ESPN+ split will be like, and much more.

It is merely one day since the news broke, and today (Wednesday, May 23rd) marked the official announcement, so we’ll see some details revealed in the months ahead, but for now, here’s what we know.

  • The overall package is five years, $1.5 billion. This $300 million/year deal is actually $150 million/year for TV rights, and another $150 million for the cards streamed on ESPN+. It’s more than double what FOX is currently paying for the final year of its broadcast rights.
  • The UFC still controls the production. Different network partnership, same production. Dana White confirmed this with Brett Okamoto.
  • Total number of annual UFC events: 42 (with 32 of 42 main cards behind either the ESPN+ or PPV paywall). That’s more than the 39 they ran in 2017, and one more than the 41 they staged in 2015 and 2016. If you are one to believe the UFC is running too many shows, they’re actually going to be slightly increasing their total events moving forward.
  • 20 Fight Night cards will air on ESPN+, while 10 will be on ESPN linear networks. Yes, the majority of the non-PPV events are going to be streamed behind a paywall and not televised (for US viewers, at least). The official branding shall be known as “UFC on ESPN Fight Night” and “UFC on ESPN+ Fight Night.” To inject my own take on this briefly, ESPN and ESPN2 are going to be locked up with primetime college basketball and college football for several months of the year, and those games will take priority over the UFC, so I imagine April-August is going to be the sweet spot for Fight Nights on ESPN.
  • PPVs won’t be reduced, and ESPN networks will televise the PPV prelims. The official press release announced that there will be 12 pay-per-view preliminary card specials on ESPN and its family of networks.
  • All ESPN Fight Night preliminary cards will be streamed on ESPN+. Instead of prelims and main card on the same network, events on ESPN television will have prelims on the streaming service.
  • Dana White’s Contender Series will be on ESPN+ starting June 2019. There was no mention of The Ultimate Fighter, so we can only speculate as to what that means for that show.
  • Ariel Helwani and Chael Sonnen will be part of ESPN’s MMA coverage. As was announced last week, Ariel Helwani will be leaving MMAFighting.com to be part of ESPN’s MMA team, which includes “co-host of ‘Ariel & The Bad Guy,’ a new weekly MMA program on ESPN+; host of ongoing podcast ‘Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show’ and reporter for MMA across ESPN digital media and television platforms.”
  • UFC Fight Pass isn’t going away. While nothing was said about live UFC bouts on Fight Pass, the official press release did state “In addition to the live events and content included in the ESPN+ subscription, fight fans will be able to purchase and watch UFC FIGHT PASS®(UFC’s DTC streaming offering) and UFC PPV events via ESPN+ and within the ESPN app, for a separate cost.” ESPN+ subscribers will also have “non-exclusive access to UFC’s full archive of programming, including historic events, classic bouts, and original programming.”

If you’re based in the United States and are interested in signing up for ESPN+, the subscription is a no-contract $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year.

In due time, we’ll know how long these cards will last — they will be 12-fight shows — the dates, the start times, and plenty more as we embark in a new era of UFC broadcast content.

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This is such a horrible decision.  Not only are the majority of UFC events now behind a ******* paywall (which is what helped in slowly castrating interest in boxing when it switched the majority of their events to pay channels like HBO from free TV), it is with ESPN and their new unproven streaming service ESPN+.  A network that is bleeding money by the month due to it's poor negotiation for content rights deals and personalities, as well as bleeding viewership for years on end due to people being fed up with their parent company Disney hamfisting it's politics down their viewer's throats and doing everything but show sports highlights.  What the hell is Dana thinking by partnering with this fossil of a network?  Of all the choices of services you could have partnered with like Amazon, YouTube or Netflix, he chooses the network that is dying on the vine because they keep bending over and giving up billions dollar media rights deals like this for content?  Mark my words, signing this deal with the devil incarnate of media groups that is Walt Disney Corporation will do more to hurt the UFC long term than help.  By Dana accepting to have his content buried on an unproven service in ESPN+, the UFC's viewership will go straight into the toilet and interest in the sport is going to wane and stagnate.

But that is just my opinion. Thoughts?

"Reality is whatever refuses to go away when I stop believing it." - Philip K ****

Responses

Bigj383
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05.23.2018 | 10:37 PM ET

UFC got their 450 Million a year they were looking for.

"It does not make sense that humans deliberately malfunction. - Upgrade"

GreenHornet
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05.23.2018 | 10:43 PM ET

@bigj

But at what cost?  This deal could easily backfire hamper future growth of the company and alienate fans.  Especially when they have fans already paying money for the UFC's existing streaming service in UFC Fight Pass.  Now they do a deal with a competing service and put most of their Fight Night cards on there, but not their own?  That makes no damn sense.

* Edited at 05.23.2018, 10:45 PM ET *

"Reality is whatever refuses to go away when I stop believing it." - Philip K ****

igotthejack44
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05.23.2018 | 11:33 PM ET

Well, I'm not too happy about this. I already pay for ESPN, FightPass and order between 8-11 PPVs a year, now they want to hit me up for another $50 a year. I even had to upgrade my service to get FS2 at around $15 a month increase to get the few shown on there. 
GreenHornet
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05.24.2018 | 12:19 AM ET

Also, this deal comes on the heels of the expansion of Walt Disney Corporation's massive media monopoly following it's purchase of the majority of 21st Century Fox's assets and another reason as to why it needs to be hit with an antitrust suit.

I mean, roughly since the beginning of the new millenium, Disney has bought:

Marvel
ESPN
ABC
21st Century Fox
20th Century Fox
Hulu
Sky Media plc
LucasFilm
LucasArts
National Geographic
and
Saban Entertainment among others.

They have a stronghold on media.  Couple that with the fact they are the most financially unstable media company of all the big American media companies, it essentially makes the success of the entertainment industry dependent on Disney.  

The UFC's financial stability is attached to a ticking timebomb and is a matter of when, not if, Disney spirals out financial control again due to how piss poor they are run right now.  

"Reality is whatever refuses to go away when I stop believing it." - Philip K ****

Bigj383
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05.24.2018 | 3:31 AM ET


I actually can downgrade my Sling from Blue to Orange which saves $5 a month then I can  add ESPN+ and it would make it a wash, I break even.


People had the same sky is falling attitude when UFC switched from Spike to Fox screaming how it was going to ruin them and they have only gotten bigger since. UFC just trippled their tv rights now which means the majority of their revenue won't be coming from PPV.


Disney in Financial Chaos? A growth rate double that of the S&P over the last decade? Also as big as Disney is it isn't even close to a monopoly.

"It does not make sense that humans deliberately malfunction. - Upgrade"

GreenHornet
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05.24.2018 | 4:19 AM ET


@Imperator



Financially this won't affect me at all given I simply use pirate streams to watch 70% of most cards. I only buy the cards I think are worth the money. I would never buy fightpass, It's a joke.

Fight Pass wasn't a joke until the UFC decided to slowly starve it of content and make it utterly worthless about 1-2 years ago.  And it wouldn't remain a joke if the UFC properly utilized it as a means to get around money hungry middlemen like ESPN.


Will it result in decreased viewership/ interest? Probably not. This is the model Boxing uses and has used for some time, and premium boxing events still draw fairly well fairly consistently. If anything, it will increase consumer participation because it's a step towards legitimizing the 'sport', and ESPN is the vanguard sporting telecast service. It's a brand known and trusted; certainly moreso than fox. I strongly suspect that UFC is not doing nearly as well portrayed--and it isn't being portrayed as booming.


Not no more.  ESPN's overseas affiliates like TSN may be going strong, but here in the States ESPN is a dead man walking with Disney on multiple occasions considering selling it for pennies on the dollar.  They have had multiple mass pink slip firing sprees over the years.

Also, it's a bit rich to talk about  hamfisting political views down people's throats given that the current host is Fox, which is the gold standard of absurdity. disinformation and polemics. Fox news is the worst media outlet since Das Reich. Woeful.


"BUT MUH FOX NEWS!!!" Hey 2004 called, they want their ****** excuses back.  I don't know how it is over in other countries, but News Corp controlled Fox News and 20th Century Fox (and Fox Sports) never intermingle.  Which is the complete opposite on how ABC/Disney operate with ESPN and how they try and make their entire network function like a McDonalds ad and push politically correct politics instead of talking about sports.  Also, given how the mainstream media in my country like CNN and MSNBC (and this includes Fox News, btw) has lied and fabricated more things to hell and back, I'd sooner trust Alex Jones and InfoWars for news than the establishment media shills and their partisan hack talking heads. 


Though it's true that the transition to HBO etc marked the downfall of mass boxing interest, it's a bit of a false equivalence to suggest that a transition to a new streaming service will haver a similar effect on UFC. The golden age of televised boxing was punctuated by an Internet-free, stream-free universe. The world is different now. You can't lose what you never had, and interest in MMA is floundering anyway.



It is when the service you back is going to have less web traffic than MySpace did in its dying days of relevance.  Does anyone really think people are going to pay a premium to watch sports on ESPN+ when you can bootleg it or better yet get a better deal with a service like YouTube?  Why back a dying network that has proven to not give an inkling of a **** about sports not named NBA or NFL and instead join an innovative platform like Amazon Prime, which a lot of people use and would have less hassle.  Plus, MMA's popularity isn't floundering as much as it is stagnating and that's mainly because the UFC doesn't build anyone up anymore.


The ESPN streaming service, although untested, would have to be fairly abysmal to be worse than the status quo , and it's very unlikely it will be. ESPN is the best in the business, and it is certainly in their interest to get it right given they'll be out of pocket 1.5 Billion dollars. What you get for that 50$ thereabouts remains to be seen.  My guess is that they will offer bundles, so it may turn out to be better value for money than fightpass,


You ever use ESPN 3 back in the day?  I have and it was terrible.  Always buffering, poor UI on the video playback, couldn't turn off autoplay, and you needed to give your cable provider to even be able to use the damn thing.

I don't think this will change the end-users's experience too much. What I want to hear is that less cards will be produced overall, but apparently they are going to dilute the Koolaid even further. More than half of the current events are basically horse ****, and they want to spread the butter even thinner.


In summation, I don't really care. Matchmaking will still go on largely unchanged, and I'll keep not buying cards but  watching them anyway.



I didn't think a new TV deal would ever be the remedy to the problem, but never did I think it would make it worse.  Which, in my opinion, it definitively has by partnering with a network that has basically become the sports version of CNN.

"Reality is whatever refuses to go away when I stop believing it." - Philip K ****

GreenHornet
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05.24.2018 | 5:05 AM ET


@Big J

I was actually one of the people who jumped for joy initially at the news of the Fox deal as it made finding the UFC more accessible and easier to get access to watch on TV.  But that's just me.  Little did I know the deal would eventually lead to the bloated monolith we got now.


And I'm sorry if you don't think taking a giant chunk out of Fox is meriting of calling Disney a media monopoly worthy of getting antitrusted there is no help for you.  They control a massive amount of entertainment media from the sports world to the silver screen to the TV screen to even print media.

"Reality is whatever refuses to go away when I stop believing it." - Philip K ****

ImperatorFishrat
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05.24.2018 | 6:26 PM ET

Green, it's not really worth caring about. Again, matchmaking will go on largely unchanged, and you'll still have access to the fights you want to watch.

That should be your only concern, as a consumer. Don't worry about the company. They aren't worried about you.

Alex Jones is an obese charlatan; a bad actor and malignant narcissist  who embroiders ****amamie hocus-pocus out of heresay and conjecture to convince lunatics and dullards that the world is ending and that the only way they can avoid extinction is by purchasing his brand of vitamins which will largely do nothing other than give them rather expensive urine.

CNN is slanted, yes--but it's a very far cry from assertions that Hillary Clinton ran a ticklemonster ring out of a pizza shop, that Glenn Beck is CIA operative,  and that a secret cabal of deep state actors are funding black ops school shooting programs to the end of getting grounds to enforce further gun ownership restrictions.

There is absolutely no logic in a philosophical progression whereby somebody, having perceived bias in a media source, outright rejects it in favor of another that is sheer unmitigated bug**** insanity--an insanity further compounded by a conflict of interest relating to a mercantile interest.

"This is bad. I'm going to support something worse".

Brilliant. The only one of his crackpot theories that might hold any weight is that chemtrails are being used to control people's minds, because the distillate absurdity of the process outlined above, and the rate at which it occurs in your ridiculous society is so profound that it defies conventional explanations.


* Edited at 05.24.2018, 6:31 PM ET *

"Cage Warriors 95: 1/12."

GreenHornet
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05.25.2018 | 4:18 AM ET

Green, it's not really worth caring about. Again, matchmaking will go on largely unchanged, and you'll still have access to the fights you want to watch.


That should be your only concern, as a consumer. Don't worry about the company. They aren't worried about you.


Because god forbid I demand the supposed "leader in MMA" to actually try and live up to that standard and not short change me the customer.  Believe it or not, I am one of those people who would actually like to support the things I enjoy with my money.  And when UFC actually tries, it is the best company out there.  So I don't think it is too ridiculous for them to continue to bleed me the consumer dry by partnering with a media group desperate for dollars that will penny pinch me to watch cards I used to get for free on a new and unproven streaming platform like ESPN+.

Alex Jones is an obese charlatan; a bad actor and malignant narcissist  who embroiders ****amamie hocus-pocus out of heresay and conjecture to convince lunatics and dullards that the world is ending and that the only way they can avoid extinction is by purchasing his brand of vitamins which will largely do nothing other than give them rather expensive urine.





CNN is slanted, yes--but it's a very far cry from assertions that Hillary Clinton ran a ticklemonster ring out of a pizza shop, that Glenn Beck is CIA operative,  and that a secret cabal of deep state actors are funding black ops school shooting programs to the end of getting grounds to enforce further gun ownership restrictions.

Yeah CNN doesn't talk about crazy conspiracy nonsense like pizzagate or what have you.  They talk about crazy conspiracies like the President of the United States being a Manchurian candidate to a foreign power to cover up the fact that Hillary Clinton committed election fraud because they are the propaganda arm of the DNC and are sellouts to the likes of the Military Industrial Complex so they can push more war and create more dead American soldiers that they can profit off of.  CNN is infinitely worse than InfoWars, because at least people know that InfoWars is a meme. 


There is absolutely no logic in a philosophical progression whereby somebody, having perceived bias in a media source, outright rejects it in favor of another that is sheer unmitigated bug**** insanity--an insanity further compounded by a conflict of interest relating to a mercantile interest.

"This is bad. I'm going to support something worse".

Like I said before, I don't.  But considering that CNN is as much fake news as InfoWars, if not more nowadays with their horse****, what's the difference at this point?


Brilliant. The only one of his crackpot theories that might hold any weight is that chemtrails are being used to control people's minds, because the distillate absurdity of the process outlined above, and the rate at which it occurs in your ridiculous society is so profound that it defies conventional explanations.

>Derides Alex Jones for being a conspiracy theorist
>Believes in chemtrails

Top kek, my dude. 

* Edited at 05.25.2018, 4:21 AM ET *

"Reality is whatever refuses to go away when I stop believing it." - Philip K ****

ImperatorFishrat
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05.25.2018 | 5:56 AM ET

You're assuming that ESPN is going to gouge you, but that wouldn't make sense from a business perspective and it won't happen. There's no point making an acquisition to the tune of 1.5 Billion dollars and subsequently pricing it out of the market . That would be a failed investment. Rule it out.

I'm not sure why you think ESPN is floundering, and even it were, it's a subsidiary of the parent company Disney which as of this minute is trading at over 100 bucks a share. It's doing fine, believe me; it could run at a loss for the next ******* century and Disney likely wouldn't even notice. In fact that may well be on the cards; corporations routinely do this to stymie competition dominating a given market; it is worth it taking a hit to impede the growth and influence of a rival company. 

Yeah CNN doesn't talk about crazy conspiracy nonsense like pizzagate or what have you.  They talk about crazy conspiracies like the President of the United States being a Manchurian candidate to a foreign power to cover up the fact that Hillary Clinton committed election fraud because they are the propaganda arm of the DNC and are sellouts to the likes of the Military Industrial Complex so they can push more war and create more dead American soldiers that they can profit off of.  CNN is infinitely worse than InfoWars, because at least people know that InfoWars is a meme.  



Clinton didn't commit election fraud. That's simply another crackpot conspiracy theory. You can read about the origins of that particular species of nonsense right here:


https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/25-million-fraud-votes-for-clinton/


There's definitely a conflict of interest in her financing of the DNC and I have no doubt that she manipulated the primary electoral process to secure her position as the nominee. Absolutely that happened. But that's a different kettle of beans, and the nature of politics.She's a *************, but Trump was not, and is never going to be, a better alternative.




Oh--he's porked the Singapore summit, apparently.

https://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/1039767-trump cancels-summit-with-north-koreas-kim-warns-that-military-ready/?utm_source=newsletter-20180525-0643&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news



Addendum: I was being facetious when talking about chemtrails. Woosh.

* Edited at 05.25.2018, 5:57 AM ET *

"Cage Warriors 95: 1/12."

GreenHornet
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05.25.2018 | 2:46 PM ET


@imperator


It is because of the mass amount of cost cutting they have engaged in since 2010 and the fact people keep cutting the cord and those that still rely on TV have collectively changed the channel. People are clearly fed up with the product ESPN has been giving the public or they would not be leaving in droves.


And yeah I don't trust snopes. I do, however, trust Julian Assange and wikileaks. An organization that has been absolutely trustworthy and proved via the cable leaks in 2009 from Bradley Manning that revealed the US killed innocent civilians during the invasion of Iraq. So considering he was the man who provided the DNC leaks, which detailed that Clinton and the DNC did in fact commit election fraud, I tend to take Assange's word as fact.


Also step your meme game up bro.

* Edited at 05.25.2018, 7:09 PM ET *

"Reality is whatever refuses to go away when I stop believing it." - Philip K ****


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