Professional Fighters League inks two-year broadcast deal with ESPN
The Professional Fighters League has found a new home.
The league-based MMA promotion has signed a two-year deal with ESPN to televise its upcoming 2019 and 2020 seasons, PFL CEO Peter Murray announced on Monday's episode of "Ariel Helwani's MMA Show."
The deal calls for ESPN to air 10 PFL events a year, which will include regular season, playoff and championship fights. ESPN will also air pre- and post-shows surrounding the broadcasts, as well as ancillary content leading up to cards. PFL will produce the content. All events will also be available in Spanish.
Prior to 2019, ESPN had never aired live mixed martial arts action; now it is the exclusive United States broadcast home for both the UFC and PFL.
"We are pleased to add the PFL to our combat sports roster. This unique and innovative competition structure provides MMA fans with a great option to see some of the best fights and content in the sport," said Burke Magnus, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming and Scheduling. "ESPN is the home of combat sports, and we look forward to delivering thrilling live PFL events and powerful storytelling to fans, across all platforms."
The first event will be May 9. Prelims will air on ESPN+, and ESPN2 will televise the main card, which is how most events will be structured. The playoffs will kick off on Oct. 11, and the season will culminate on Dec. 31 with the finals airing live on ESPN2.
Last year, in what was the PFL's inaugural season after rebranding from its original incarnation, World Series of Fighting, the promotion crowned six new champions and paid each $1 million for winning their respective tournaments.
In 2019, the organization will crown its first female champion, as it previously announced it will showcase a 155-pound tournament with two-time Olympic judoka gold medalist Kayla Harrison serving as one of the faces of the promotion.
"We are thrilled to bring the PFL to ESPN, the undisputed leader in sports," Murray said. "ESPN is a ground-breaking pioneer that has fundamentally changed the way fans consume sports, and we at the PFL are reimagining MMA for fans and fighters. PFL will be the technology leader revolutionizing the way MMA fans experience watching live fights, using PFL's proprietary SmartCage platform and Cagenomics system, to display real-time fighter data and take fans inside the cage."