BT Sport and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) have signed a ground-breaking TV deal that will see more UK coverage of its events than ever before.
The three-year partnership will see all of UFC’s live and recorded programming broadcast exclusively on BT Sport in the UK and Ireland.
For the first time, this will include originally produced programming for UK audiences with exclusive access which will result in up to 400 hours of programming to the UFC’s loyal and burgeoning British fanbase.
BT will begin airing UFC programming from the summer with the premiere event live on August 3.
Already an established mainstream sport in the United States, UFC pitches mixed martial arts fighters against each other in an octagonal ring over a maximum of five rounds.
In the UK it is currently broadcast by ESPN, drawing only minimal audiences in the low tens of thousands, figures which do not reflect the growing interest in mixed martial arts amongst British fight sport fans.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship continues to develop a strong UK fanbase and this agreement will allow audiences to access a wider range of programming.
This includes more than 30 live broadcasts from around the globe and additional localised and original content, which will help to grow interest in the UFC.
Garry Cook, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of UFC EMEA, said “The keys to success for UFC, in broadcast terms, are to identify strategic partners who are committed to building the business together beyond just airing non-European premium live content.
“UFC athletes are the most committed and dedicated in the world of sport and this new relationship will help people gain a more in depth understanding of the sport and our brand.”
Simon Green, Head of BT Sport, said “We’re delighted to have signed this agreement with UFC.
“We’ve said BT Sport will offer a wide range of sports that appeal to different audiences and we know that UFC has a huge, committed fanbase in the UK and Ireland and we hope they will be excited about our plans to develop the coverage of the sport.”
UFC fans will be able to watch all of their favourite programming on the BT Sport channels, including current favourite, The Ultimate Fighter, the world’s longest-running sports reality TV show.
UFC adds to prestigious roster of elite sports that will be broadcast on BT Sport from this summer, including Barclays Premier League football, FA Cup, Aviva Premiership rugby union and WTA Tour tennis.
UFC’s EMEA growth has been unprecedented and continues to define the sports landscape with recent shows in London and Stockholm selling out and showcasing some of the UK and Ireland’s up and coming talent.
In 2012 there were over 11,000,000 UK visits to the UFC official website, and the organisation plans to announce further shows in the country to continue to build its fan base and assist the launch of this broadcast relationship.
Garry Cook, the former chief executive at Manchester City, continues: “This agreement is a landmark step in UFC’s development in the UK as it will increase our exposure to a much wider and more mainstream sporting audience.
“It means that the UK joins USA, Canada, Australia and Brazil as one of our largest TV broadcast markets.
“BT Sport certainly shares our vision for the premium quality broadcast of elite performance sport for our UK audience and we’re very excited about the strategic partnership we’ve entered into.
“We look forward to working alongside them and showing a wider fan base how exciting and engaging the UFC is.”
The UFC deals comes in the same week that BT is expected to confirm pricing and availability for its new sports channels, as well as launch its multi-million pound marketing campaign.
BT Sport is also poised to announce a multi-year deal to broadcast MotoGP, the world’s premier motorcycle racing series, from the 2014 season onwards, taking over the rights from the BBC.
Ahead of its launch this summer, BT Sport has already assembled a rights portfolio which includes live Premier League football, exclusive rights to top-flight Aviva Premiership rugby and women’s WTA tennis tournaments.
It has also inherited a selection of rights currently held by ESPN’s UK channels business as part of its acquisition of the channel in February, more of which is set to confirmed shortly.
Pre-register for the new BT Sport channels at btsport.com...