The Ultimate Fighting Championship won’t be the only mixed martial arts content on The Worldwide Leader in 2019.
The Professional Fighters League announced on Monday that it has reached a multi-year deal to make ESPN and ESPN+ the exclusive home of the promotion’s events in the United States. All 10 PFL fight cards in 2019 will air on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The PFL reached a similar agreement with TSN to exclusively air its events in Canada.
“We are pleased to add the PFL to our combat sports roster. This unique and innovative competition structure provides MMA fans with a great option to see some of the best fights and content in the sport,” said ESPN executive vice president of programming and scheduling Burke Magnus. “ESPN is the home of combat sports, and we look forward to delivering thrilling live PFL events and powerful storytelling to fans, across all platforms.”
Six, five-hour PFL regular season events will take place on Thursday nights from May through August followed by three playoff events in October. Up to three hours of each event will stream ESPN+, with the final two hours airing on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. The 2019 PFL Championship will take place on New Year’s Eve and airs exclusively on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, with the six divisional champions receiving $1 million apiece. After rebranding from World Series of Fighting, the PFL concluded its first season in 2018.
“The PFL was created to offer the 300 million global MMA fans the sport-season format that other major sports like the NFL and NBA have, which is the transparency and meritocracy of a regular season, playoffs and championship,” said PFL co-founder and chairman Donn Davis. “Fans can now follow the stories, and business partners can engage in the journeys, of the PFL fighters throughout the season. This agreement to bring PFL to ESPN and ESPN+ further validates our unique and innovative product and will accelerate the PFL’s growth.”
In addition to live events, ESPN platforms will carry pre- and post-fight coverage as well as other exclusive PFL content. ESPN will air the PFL’s 2019 roster selection this spring, although an exact date was not revealed.
According to a release, PFL’s upcoming season will include the debut of the women’s 155-pound division, which features Olympic judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison. Additionally, the promotion will introduce SmartCage and Cagenomics, which will deliver “real-time data and analytics” during fights.