22 Apr 2022

By: Sport Industry Group

UK pay-tv broadcaster BT Sport is on the verge of signing a multi-year contract renewal to continue its coverage of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in the UK and Ireland, according to an exclusive SportBusiness report.

Competition from the likes of DAZN and Sky mean that BT has had to meet an increased fee to secure the broadcast rights. According to the SportBusiness report, it is thought that BT’s ability to reach audiences through linear channels also helped to seal the new agreement.

Under terms of the new extension, which comes soon after the recent Fight Night event in London on 19th March, BT Sport will continue showing the vast majority of the UFC’s events on its linear pay-television channels from 2023 with only the organisation’s most marketable numbered events earmarked for pay-per-view in the UK and Ireland, typically those with European-friendly start times.

The company’s current agreement with the mixed martial arts promotion expires at the end of 2022.

DAZN, which attempted to acquire BT Sport earlier in 2022, is thought to have come closest to agreeing a deal ahead of BT. The streaming platform currently holds exclusive rights to Matchroom Boxing events in a deal that runs until the end of 2025.

UFC and BT will have a particular focus on promoting local talent in the sport in an attempt to attract new viewers. 29-year-old Tom Aspinall, sixth in the UFC heavyweight rankings following his win over Alexander Volkov, is tipped for stardom, while Liverpool’s Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett and teammate Molly ‘Meatball’ McCann are quickly emerging as the UK’s new crop of MMA stars.