Dana White plans to meet with ESPN to discuss UFC extension: “We’re going to start talking strategy and obviously our future together.”

By Zain Bando - June 24, 2023

The UFC intends to remain on ESPN for the foreseeable future

It appears the UFC and Dana White’s relationship with ESPN won’t be ending at any point soon.

Dana White

Although the $300 million-dollar per year contract is set to expire in 2025, reports from Sports Business Journal indicate the promotion’s intention to keep ESPN as its singular broadcast platform in the United States. The UFC previously called Fox Sports home from 2011-2018, this after a six-year stint with Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV) gave the UFC its mainstream appeal.

UFC president Dana White plans to meet with ESPN executives, including President Jimmy Pitaro, to hash out the UFC’s long-term plan and whether or not “The Worldwide Leader” is still the best fit for the WME-IMG brand. The meeting is scheduled for over dinner next month, but the location has not been made public at press time.

The deal began in Jan. 2019 and sees UFC events air 42 times per year across ESPN, ESPN+ and ABC, making its schedule a near every weekend ordeal. The UFC also runs its usual shoulder programming, including ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ and DWCS, to go along with its weekly event calendar.

Dana White said he looks forward to meeting with ESPN to discuss how the MMA promotion still fits into its content delivery plan.

“We’re going to start talking strategy and obviously our future together,” White said in an exclusive to SBJ.

ESPN is pleased with the UFC as an essential business asset

It also appears that it isn’t just Dana White who’s pleased with the partnership either.

ESPN has grown alongside with it, as ESPN+ subscriptions have now increased by $3 per month since its launch four years ago, costing consumers $10 per month ($120 USD per year) to consume all its content. This price is only if a consumer opts to strictly purchase ESPN+ and does not apply to subscribers who bundle Disney+ and Hulu.

Just as much as the UFC intends to grow its brand, ESPN wants to ensure it does as well, according to Matt Kenny, who is the VP of Programming and Acquisitions for Pro Basketball and Combat Sports, Kenny said ESPN loves the UFC and believes in a similar vision as White, Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, to help the organization grow.

The promotion’s next event is another “UFC Fight Night” installment July 1 from the UFC APEX, as Sean Strickland takes on Abus Magomedov in a middleweight five-rounder.

The card begins at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT.

Should the UFC re-sign with ESPN? Let us know your thoughts, Penn Nation!


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