ESPN is rolling out yet another alternate broadcast for a live event this weekend, and this time, it’s the UFC getting the special treatment.
On Thursday, the company announced that UFC 278 would have an alternate broadcast starring the Gronkowski family (patriarch Gordon, along with sons Rob, Chris, Dan, Glenn, and Gordie Jr). The first hour of the simulcast will start at 9 PM ET and be available on ESPN and ESPN+, shifting to ESPN+ for the PPV beginning at 10 PM. Various guests will also appear, including Chuck Liddell, Kevin Holland, Paddy Pimblett, and Molly McCann.
“The best way to watch a big UFC fight card is with your friends. And this Saturday, you can hang out with your new friends, the Gronkowskis,” said Glenn Jacobs, vice president of MMA production at ESPN. “They’re fans of the sport, have great family chemistry and this telecast will provide an additional fun and creative way to watch UFC 278.”
“Our family is pumped to be able to team up with Peyton and his team at Omaha Productions to bring some fun and laughs into The Octagon,” said the Gronkowski family. “Get ready for some action-packed fun as we hang out as a family, share stories, and test out our UFC skills.”
“All of us at Omaha are excited to team up with ESPN on the first UFC alternate telecast. There couldn’t be a more fun group to launch the series with than the Gronkowski family,” said Peyton Manning, founder of Omaha Productions. “The Gronkowski brothers and their dad Gordon are putting together an entertaining show that will celebrate the athletes in the Octagon and hopefully introduce the sport to new fans.”
The UFC 278 broadcast is airing on several networks. The two hour prelims will be available from 8-10 PM ET on ABC, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN+. The first hour will also be available on ESPN, while the network switches to the Gronk-centric broadcast for the second hour. The full main card and the Gronk simulcast will exclusively air on ESPN+ as a pay-per-view event.
Like with most alternate broadcasts, this one is targeted at a specific audience, and I’d expect that audience to love the hell out of this. As for the diehard UFC fans religiously paying for several events a year, I’m sure they’d rather have the option of an alternate broadcast featuring several fighters and/or coaches dissecting the event.