While the UFC is ESPN’s primary MMA promotion, the network also has a less well-known relationship with the Professional Fighters League (PFL), giving the tournament-based promotion a broadcast partner on both digital and linear platforms.
That relationship will be continuing in 2022. On Tuesday, the PFL announced a new TV deal with ESPN, which includes events on ESPN’s linear networks and simulcasts on ESPN+.
Under the deal, the entire 2022 PFL Playoffs and majority of Regular Season events will be televised on ESPN, as well as simulcast on ESPN+, with additional event coverage broadcast on ESPN2.
In addition to live events, ESPN platforms will bring fight fans pre- and post-event coverage, as well as exclusive PFL content. The agreement begins with the telecast of the 2022 PFL Regular Season kickoff event on April 20, with specific details on scheduling and programming to be announced in the coming weeks.
In my opinion, this was the most logical move for the PFL. Prior to its ESPN deal, PFL aired on NBC’s platforms for a season. ESPN gives the PFL the best of multiple worlds, with a significant reach on linear networks and sustained placement on ESPN+. ESPN’s relationship with the UFC probably also gives the PFL the opportunity to draw in some of those fans and grow their audience with people who are actually MMA fans.