The UFC has confirmed a three year exclusive deal with BT Sports for the television rights for UFC programming for UK and Ireland.
The three year contract will start in August with the first live event being UFC 163, the featherweight championship bout between Anthony Pettis and Jose Aldo.
This new deal is a little different then the current ESPN as is that all exclusive programming will now be shown in Britain and Ireland. Fuel TV in America broadcast such programs as ‘UFC Tonight’, and pre and post fight shows, these shows will now be broadcast overseas as part of the signing. Another new addition in the UFC’s new deal is that for the first time the UK will produce original programming to help build interest in the sport. The Daily Telegraph’s Gareth A Davies reports that a magazine show will be used to build interest in live fights, to try and garner new fans. The time difference has been a crucial set back in trying to attract a mainstream fan-base in Britain, with most fight cards often taking place in the early hours of the morning.
BT Sport boss Simon Head said, “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 fan-base in the UK and Ireland and we hope they will be excited about plans to develop coverage of the sport.”
Last year former Manchester City chief executive Gary Cook was appointed Executive Vice President and managing director of the UFC, he added, “This agreement is a landmark step in UFC’s development in the UK as it will increase our exposure to a much wider audience and more mainstream sporting audience.”
BT Sport will launch with three sports channels in August, offering exclusive Premiership rugby coverage, with rights to over 30 Premier League matches next season also confirmed.