105°F
weather icon Clear

UFC pay-per-views head exclusively to ESPN-Plus

The UFC is taking another step away from traditional cable and satellite television operators.

Viewers hoping to order the organization’s pay-per-view events will only be able to do so through the ESPN-Plus subscription service beginning with UFC 236 on April 13, the companies announced Monday.

“Today’s announcement further establishes the strength of the partnership between UFC and ESPN,” UFC president Dana White said in a statement. “Now our fans will be able to watch all UFC events exclusively on ESPN platforms, including ESPN-Plus, which is an innovative way to deliver fights to our young fan base. I couldn’t be more excited to work with ESPN for the next seven years. Together we’re going to do amazing things to help grow this sport.”

The UFC’s agreement with DirecTV to distribute pay-per-view events domestically expired ahead of February’s UFC 234 event, but the companies came to an agreement to air the broadcast days before the fights. They did so again before UFC 235 in March.

Now that relationship has been severed.

Pay-per-view providers and content creators like the UFC typically split revenue almost down the middle, but it’s believed the UFC was seeking something closer to a 70-30 breakdown.

The new deal runs through 2025 and applies to consumer purchases in the United States. Commercial buys will still be available through other outlets.

It calls for 12 pay-per-view events per year with purchases through the platform offering high-definition streams with both English and Spanish commentary. ESPN-Plus already airs upwards of 20 UFC Fight Night events per year and preliminary card action under a multi-year agreement that brought the UFC to ESPN in January.

That deal also includes 10 ESPN events per year and fetched the UFC $1.5 billion over five years.

“With the addition of UFC PPV events, we are making ESPN-Plus an absolute must-have for any fan of the UFC and mixed martial arts,” said Kevin Mayer, Chairman of Direct-to-Consumer International for The Walt Disney Company, in a release. “In less than a year, ESPN-Plus has established itself as the leader in direct-to-consumer sports and this new programming agreement adds a significant business to our platform while reinforcing the value and strength of our product and our content lineup.”

Pay-per-view events purchased through the app will cost $59.99 and the service will offer a one-year subscription to ESPN-Plus for an extra $20 for new customers.

ESPN officials stated there may be other package deals announced in the future.

Viewers who have been purchasing events through the UFC’s digital brands like UFC.com or the organization’s app will be redirected to ESPN-Plus.

ESPN-Plus reported 568,000 new subscribers in two days before the Jan. 19 UFC event on the platform, its largest event and subscription catalyst to date.

“We couldn’t be more excited to continue to drive passionate fans to these new pay-per-view experiences,” ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro said. “In addition to giving MMA fans a one-stop home for all UFC PPV events, ESPN-Plus pricing and packaging will deliver new value to fans as well.”

UFC 236 features a pair of interim title fights, headlined by a lightweight bout between Dustin Poirier and featherweight champ Max Holloway. Israel Adesanya will take on Kelvin Gastelum for the interim middleweight belt.

More MMA: Follow at CoveringTheCage.com and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Covering The Cage Videos
Contender Series fighters react to being signed to the UFC
After making history as the first batch of winners to all earn contracts following their performances at Dana White's Contender Series, the fighters react to making it to the UFC.
Dana White signs all five winners at Contender Series
For the first time in the three-season history of Dana White's Contender Series, every winning fighter earned a UFC contract. Maki Pitolo, Joe Solecki, Antonio Trocoli, Hunter Azure and Jonathan Pearce impressed the UFC brass and were awarded contracts by the UFC president.
Jones says he was confident he secured a win over Santos at UFC 239 - Video
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones continued his reign by taking a split decision victory over Thiago Santos at UFC 239. He discusses the close call and entertains the idea of a trilogy bout with Daniel Cormier. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 recap: Jones and Nunes retain their titles - VIDEO
Jon Jones and Amanda Nunes both retained their titles at UFC 239. Jones took a decision over Thiago Santos in the main event and Nunes scored a first-round knockout of Holly Holm. Jorge Masvidal also made promotional history on July 6 by scoring a 5-second knockout over Ben Askren. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Amanda Nunes on her win over Holly Holm at UFC 239 - Video
Amanda Nunes talks about continuing her reign as a two-division champion in the UFC after defeating Holly Holm with a head kick in the first round of their title bout at UFC 239. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239: Masvidal makes UFC history with 5-second knockout - Video
Jorge Masvidal discusses his history-making knockout of Ben Askren at UFC 239 and makes his case for a shot at the welterweight title next. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fighters at UFC 239 react to the 7.1 earthquake - Video
Fighters at UFC 239 talk about what they experienced when the 7.1 earthquake was felt in Las Vegas on Friday night. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 Ceremonial Weigh-in Staredowns - Video
All fighters competing at UFC 239 on July 6 at the T-Mobile Arena faced off against each other one last time before their bouts take place. In the main event, Jon Jones will put his light heavyweight belt on the line against Thiago Santos. In the co-main event, Amanda Nunes will look to continue her reign as the women's bantamweight champion when she takes on Holly Holm.
UFC 239: Jon Jones says he wants to make a statement - VIDEO
Prior to UFC 239, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones says he's trying to challenge himself, set his own records to establish his legacy and explains how he's become comfortable with where he is in his career. He will put his title on the line in the main event against Thiago Santos. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 Official Weigh-in Results
All 24 fighters competing at UFC 239 on July 6 at the T-Mobile Arena made weight at the official weigh-in at the New York-New York hotel-casino on Friday. The main event features UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones putting his belt on the line against Thiago Santos. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 Preview: Jones vs. Santos
Prior to UFC 239, the Review-Journal's Adam Hill and Heidi Fang break down the main event between Jon Jones and Thiago Santos for the light heavyweight title, the co-main championship tilt between Holly Holm and reigning bantamweight queen Amanda Nunes, and preview a feature bout between Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 media day: Masvidal says he has faced tougher competition than Askren
Ahead of facing rising UFC welterweight Ben Askren, promotional veteran Jorge Masvidal says he's faced tougher opponents in the past. Askren says don't be shocked by his approach to the fight at UFC 239 on July 6 at the T-Mobile Arena. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 open workouts: Jones thanks fans for support through his dark times
At UFC 239 open workouts, light heavyweight champion Jon Jones thanked fans for their support during his "controversial moments" and says he wants to be more active through 2020. His challenger Thiago Santos says he will "shock the world" on July 6 and be the new division champion. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 open workouts: Holm wants to shock her naysayers
Holly Holm will look to reclaim the UFC women's bantamweight title when she faces two-division champion Amanda Nunes in the co-main event of UFC 239 at the T-Mobile Arena on July 6. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
White: I'm looking for different things on this show - VIDEO
UFC president Dana White spoke with media following the second episode of the third season of his show "Dana White's Contender Series". He explained why he signed the two fighters he did after their performances and discussed the heat he's taking for not signing Brendan Loughnane last week. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC's Francis Ngannou says he never doubted himself after losses - Video
UFC heavyweight Francis Ngannou will face Junior dos Santos at UFC on ESPN 3 in Minneapolis, Minn., on June 29 in a bout that could determine the next title contender. After losing in a title bout to Stipe Miocic in 2018, Ngannou says he never doubted himself. He also talks about meeting former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dana White on Contender Series contracts: "I'm looking for killers." - Video
On opening night at the UFC's newest facility, the UFC Apex, the promotion signed Punahele Soriano and Yorgan De Castro to contracts after their performances on Dana White's Contender Series. UFC president Dana White explains why he signed the fighters he did. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC Apex is the promotion's newest cutting-edge facility - VIDEO
The UFC Apex will officially open as Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series kicks off on June 19. Here's a look at what the promotion's newest facility in Las Vegas has to offer. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC President Dana White on the UFC Apex, ESPN deal, when Conor McGregor could return and more - Video
UFC President Dana White gave the Review-Journal an exclusive interview where he spoke about the promotion's new facility, the UFC Apex, their new deal with ESPN, when Conor McGregor may return to the octagon and more. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Shevchenko says defending the UFC flyweight belt is her number one challenge - Video
UFC women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko claimed the vacant title when she defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 231 last December. She will put the belt on the line for the first time in Chicago, Ill., when she faces Jessica Eye at UFC 238 on June 8. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC title contender Jessica Eye says her move to Las Vegas gives her an edge - Video
Ohio native Jessica Eye says she moved to Las Vegas to get an edge in performance ahead of facing UFC women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 238 in Chicago, Ill., on June 8. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
UFC 239 recap — RJ ringside podcast

There have now been a few days to digest the performances of Amanda Nunes and Jon Jones as two of the greatest fighters in UFC history defended their belts at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday.

 
UFC 239: Jon Jones escapes Las Vegas with belt

The light heavyweight champion was unable to take control of his main event bout against Thiago Santos, but earned the favor of two of the three judges to earn a split decision.

 
UFC 239: Amanda Nunes turns the tables on Holly Holm

Nunes knocked out Holly Holm with a similar technique to the one that led to Holm’s greatest triumph in the cage on the same card Jorge Masvidal records the fastest knockout in UFC history

 
Preview and picks for UFC 239 in Las Vegas

A breakdown of the fights on the main card of UFC 239 on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena, with picks from the Review-Journal’s Adam Hill and Heidi Fang.