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UFC-ESPN deal: 5 shocking changes

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760   //    10 Jun 2018, 22:13 IST

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Wind of change

UFC and ESPN signed an exclusive TV rights deal worth a $300 million a year over five years giving UFC a whopping $1.5 billion. Fox got the rights to air UFC in 2011 spending $100 million a year.

The UFC has transformed significantly since 2011 and has way more cash cows today than it used to have five years back, making everything way more expensive.

Starting in 2019, all of the UFC’s pay-per-view prelims and 30 Fight Nights will air exclusively on either ESPN or ESPN+. This is a huge deal for ESPN, who are picking up UFC at the perfect time as its going through tremendous growth.

Fox and ESPN are very different entities and has an entirely distinct modus operandi, So once ESPN takes command, UFC may need some makeover and it may get some new benefits out of it. This article analyses the top 5 breakthrough changes in UFC after the ESPN deal.

#5 Increase in Visibility

One should underestimate the machine that is ESPN, it's a 24 hour a day production which has a lot of viewers around the world and has a higher rated network, premium content and way more visibility.

And it will become a daily talking point on ESPN's talking head shows such as PTI, Around the Horn, First-Take, Highly Questionable making it further noticeable. The analysts take will be way more casual than the hardcore panel Fox had, but they'll get a lot more eyes on the sport in the long run.

ESPN has top combat sports analysts like Joe Tessitore and Max Kellerman with them but only time can tell us if they can get into the nuances of other aspects of martial arts such as ground fighting.

Another issue is, how much airtime does ESPN really have, with all their college basketball and other obligations which also fall on UFC timings.

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Anand is a freelance journalist, specializing in Mixed Martial Arts with Sportskeeda. Anand is also an Amateur Fighter and a Kalaripayattu Practitioner.
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