PFL and ESPN Extend Multi-Year Partnership for MMA Coverage
The Professional Fighters League (PFL) and ESPN have announced a renewed multi-year media rights deal, solidifying their partnership in delivering top-tier mixed martial arts (MMA) content to fans. The extension encompasses live event distribution of the PFL regular season, playoffs, and World Championship across ESPN linear networks and the ESPN+ streaming service.
The collaboration extends to the launch of the PFL PPV Super Fight Division in the United States, set to debut in 2024, with ESPN+ PPV serving as the distribution platform. PFL fighters will receive extensive coverage through pre- and post-fight analysis and dedicated programming on both linear and digital channels of ESPN.
This renewal comes after the series’ last agreement with ESPN in January 2022, which was scheduled to expire at the end of this year. ESPN initially secured coverage rights for PFL in February 2019, signing a two-year deal, and also holds domestic rights for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Peter Murray, CEO of PFL, stated, “We’ve had five successful seasons on ESPN and we’re excited for the next phase of growth for MMA and the Professional Fighters League with this agreement.”
“Our innovative sport-season format, elite roster of athletes, and the launch of the PFL PPV Super Fight Division are ushering in the new era of MMA as a mainstream global sports entertainment platform.”
The PFL’s PPV Super Fight Division is anticipated to be a groundbreaking global platform, featuring the best MMA fighters and combat sports stars. This initiative aligns with the PFL’s commitment to redefining the landscape of combat sports. Former UFC star Francis Ngannou has already signed an exclusive MMA contract with PFL to compete in this division, marking a strategic move for the promotion’s expansion into Africa. Influencer-turned-boxer Jake Paul is also set to join the PPV Super Fight Division.
The first PFL PPV Super Fight is slated for early 2024, with details about fighters and location to be announced later.
PFL acquired rival MMA series Bellator from US media giant Paramount earlier this month, positioning itself as a formidable contender to the UFC, the world’s largest MMA promotion. The PFL, launched in 2018, is relatively new in combat sports but has garnered significant investments, including a $100 million minority stake from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
The PFL’s aggressive expansion strategy includes the establishment of regional offshoots such as PFL Europe, formed through a joint venture with the subscription streaming service DAZN. Events in England, Ireland, France, and Germany took place in March as part of this regional expansion. PFL Europe and PFL MENA are two of six regional leagues envisioned by the PFL, with plans to eventually create a Champions League-style tournament where winners from different regions compete against each other.