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30th Jul 2018

BT Sport pull out of talks to renew contract with UFC

Michael Corry

UFC fans in Britain and Ireland will be waking up disappointed after news broke that BT Sport are to lose their broadcasting rights for the organisation.

It is understood that the media company themselves walked away from the negotiation table due to money issues. As reported by the BBC, a spokesperson said:

“We won’t bid any more than the rights are worth to us.”

It is believed that the UK-based channel spend up to £1bn per year on various rights which include Premier League and Champions League football, as well as rubgy’s Champions Cup.

The news comes as a major blow to the media company who have owned the rights to all UFC coverage on these shores since purchasing them from ESPN in 2013. It also comes off the back of news that they have already lost their rights to Italian’s premier football league, Serie A, which was snatched from underneath them by Eleven Sports. A relatively unknown media company headed up by Leeds Utd chairman Andrea Radrizzani.

The company has only recently made the move into the UK and Ireland, and they could be in line to snap up the UFC rights, if reports of an impasse with BT Sport are true.

Sky Sports are another possible outlet for the TV rights. Given their high profile stature and ability to act as a money making hype machine, one would assume it is an option that would intrigue UFC president Dana White.

You only have to look at their boxing coverage, and see the razzmatazz which follows various boxers signed to them like Anthony Joshua to know that it would probably fit well with the UFC’s model. As well as this the channel profited substantially from Conor McGregor’s foray into the boxing scene.

The main concern with Sky Sports is their pay-per-view method will impact on fans abilities to watch the main fight cards. Those who already pay the subscription fees will not want to pay more for late night broadcasts, something which has been avoided with BT Sport.

The current deal with BT Sport is set to expire at the beginning of December. Let’s just hope we can get Conor versus Khabib sorted before then so fans don’t miss out.