Sports Business Journal reported on Thursday that the UFC and ESPN plan to begin negotiations on a new media deal.
“UFC President Dana White says he is scheduled to sit down with ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro soon to start discussions over whether UFC and the network will extend their media-rights agreement beyond 2025,” Adam Stern of SBJ wrote on Thursday. Stern indicated that White, Pitaro, and Endeavor President and COO Mark Shapiro intend to meet based on a reveal by the UFC President.
The news of UFC and ESPN engaging in media rights renewal discussions isn’t too surprising. The Worldwide Leader has partnered with UFC for some time now and has already gone to great lengths to cover the sport. The sport’s model makes it somewhat difficult to pass around to everybody, as it is essentially based on a PPV model. With ESPN+, it allows the possibility to keep that furthered while presenting their big Pay-Per-View events. It also comes at a time when Endeavor’s other big and new horse, WWE, will be negotiating as well. Some have suggested that ESPN could be involved there too.
It would probably be surprising if UFC and ESPN didn’t come to terms on a renewal. The former has worked with Fox but hasn’t since ESPN took over the rights in 2019.