ESPN signs exclusive rights agreement with PFL, a rivalry between mixed martial arts and UFC • varie?

the Professional Fighters League (PFL), the first martial arts organization to present the sport in the form of playoffs and championship, has entered into a multi-year agreement with ESPN making his television networks and ESPN+ streaming service exclusive home of the PFL in the United States

PFL launched its inaugural season in 2018, with a first televised deal with NBCUniversal's NBCSN sports network. Investors in the PFL Kevin Hart, Caring Guru Tony Robbins, MGM Television President Mark Burnett, billionaire technology entrepreneur Ted Leonsis and Riot Games co-founder Brandon Beck.

ESPN has a new appetite for MMA: the Disney sports programmer landed a $ 1.5 billion five-year contract for the UFC television rights packageby catching them from Fox Sports. ESPN and ESPN + started broadcasting UFC fights last month. The UFC believes that PFL is a complement, much like the minor leagues of MMA, and helps to promote the popularity of the sport as a whole.

Under the ESPN agreement with Professional Fighters League, the 10 PFL events of 2019 will be broadcast live on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN +, the streaming sports subscription service, with up to three hours of exclusive live action on ESPN + and until two exclusive hours live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. The rights include the regular season, the playoffs and the championships.

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The season ends with the 2019 PFL Championship on New Year's Eve, with fights for the title in all weight categories live, exclusively on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. The winners of each title fight will be crowned PFL world champion in their weight class and win $ 1 million.

PFL also announced an agreement with TSN's Canadian Sport Network, which will host the company's MMA events in the country.

Six PFL regular five-hour events will be held on Thursday evenings from May to August. Three PFL playoffs will take place in October. Coverage will also be provided by ESPN +, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. The top eight fighters from each of the six weight classes in the competition will attempt to win twice in the same night to qualify for the PFL Championship.

In addition to live events, ESPN platforms will feature pre and post-event coverage and exclusive PFL exclusive content. The deal begins with the broadcast of the 2018 PFL Season Review and the 2019 Selection Show this spring. The details of the programming should be announced in the coming weeks.

"We are excited to add the PFL to our list of combat sports," said Burke Magnus, Senior Vice President of Programming and Planning at ESPN. "ESPN is the cradle of combat sports and we look forward to hosting live and exciting PFL events and telling powerful stories to fans on all platforms."

The first of this PFL season should include the debut of the MMA's all-female 155-pound women's division, which will feature Kayla Harrison, two-time Olympic gold medalist in the US, as well as SmartCage and Cagenomics, exclusive features. PFL offering real-time data. and analytic.

"This agreement to bring PFL on ESPN and ESPN + further validates our unique and innovative product and will accelerate the growth of PFL," said Donn Davis, co-founder and president of the Professional Fighters League, in a statement.

Above photo: Rashid Magomedov (left) exchanges punches with Luiz Firmino during their fight against PFL 5 in August 2018 at the Nassau Coliseum in New York. Magomedov won by decision.

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