WWE will not share FOX with the UFC as ESPN today announced that it has reached a deal with the UFC to broadcast all programming starting from January 2019, a five-year deal worth $1.5 billion.
The Disney-owned ESPN had already bought the rights for several UFC events for their new ESPN+ over-the-top internet-only service. That deal, which calls for 15 events per year, was reported to be $150 million per year, or $750 million in total.
The revised deal for all programming will see ESPN and ESPN+ airing a total of 30 UFC cards on their network excluding pay-per-views. The new deal is $300 million per year, around $100 million less per year than the UFC was looking for originally. FOX originally paid $100 million per year over seven years when their deal kicked in.
Interesting to note is that WWE will get more money than UFC for their television deal with FOX and NBCUniversal. For Smackdown, FOX will be paying $205 million per year for five years, for a total of $1.025 billion. The exact bid of NBCUniversal for Raw is not exactly known yet but according to insiders, it will be $250 million or just over that per year for three years. That puts the deal to $750 million, and when added to the FOX deal, it’s just over $1.75 billion with one deal expiring in three years rather than five.
Granted, UFC will produce less shows than WWE since wrestling runs every week but no one imagined that WWE would get such a big television deal and the UFC were commanding big money for their shows and they eventually fell short of their expectation.