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ESPN+, UFC Raise Pay-Per-View Prices For Third Time

“This is the third price jump since the UFC paired up with ESPN.  The marketing agency affiliate, Neo Media World, made the announcement on Thursday.”

Will Dundon

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UFC events on ESPN+ are once again going up.  Currently, the price for standalone pay-per-view is set at $69.99 but according to MMAFighting.com, starting with UFC 270, the price will be raised to $74.99.  The ESPN+ PPV package price will also be increasing.  The package cost will go up from $89.98 to $99.98 and includes one UFC PPV event along with a year-long subscription to the streaming service.

This is the third price jump since the UFC paired up with ESPN.  The marketing agency affiliate, Neo Media World, made the announcement on Thursday.  The monthly subscription fee for ESPN + will not change.  It currently costs $6.99 per month and $69.99 per year.

The increases come after a record-breaking period of company profits for Endeavor, the UFC’s parent company.  In the third quarter of 2021, Endeavor announced $1.4 billion in revenue with a net income of $63.6 million. The company claims this is due in large part to the MMA promotion as a major revenue driver while other properties were still recovering from pandemic-induced losses.

In the prior year, the company lost $21.8 million. Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel called the third-quarter earnings the “best nine-month, year-to-date period in UFC history.”

ESPN+ continues to see rapid growth.  With a year-over-year increase of 66%, the streaming service now has a reported 17.1 million subscribers.  In the meantime, ESPN’s cable channel has lost 76 million household viewers, down 24% from the 100.1 million in 2011.

UFC 270 takes place Jan. 22 and features a heavyweight title unifier between champion Francis Ngannou and interim champion Cirvl Gane.

Sports TV News

NBA Draft Ratings Rise 32% For ESPN and ABC

“The event peaked at 8:15pm ET when four and a half million viewers tuned in.”

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The 2022 NBA Draft may have lacked the high profile prospect that prior drafts have had, but the intrigue surrounding the top three picks led to strong audience interest.

With all eyes on the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Houston Rockets viewership for the draft rose 32% year over year for ESPN. The first round on ABC and ESPN averaged close to four million viewers (3,988,000).

Paolo Banchero wound up going #1 to the Magic, Chet Holmgren to #2 to the Thunder, and Jabari Smith Jr. #3 to the Rockets. The full two rounds of the draft averaged just over three million viewers (3,047,000). Round 2 aired exclusively on ESPN.

The first round on ESPN and ABC was the most-watched program for June 23rd across all of television in all key demos. The event peaked at 8:15pm ET when four and a half million viewers (4,500,000) tuned in.

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Shannon Sharpe Apologizes to Richard Jefferson for Calling Him Lazy

Jordan Bondurant

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Shannon Sharpe

FS1’s Shannon Sharpe took to social media to clear the air between him and ESPN’s Richard Jefferson over some comments Sharpe made about the former NBA champion.

Sharpe said Jefferson was lazy for only wanting to talk about basketball. Jefferson is an NBA analyst for ESPN and doesn’t normally appear on debate shows or provide analysis on other sports.

“There is not a person in this industry since I have retired that would ever refer to my work ethic as being lazy,” Jefferson said in a response video on his TikTok. “So as long as you live don’t ever do that again or this conversation is gonna be much different.”

Sharpe saw the video and apologized saying his assessment of Jefferson was lazy.

“I want to apologize, I come to you as a man, Rich, and apologize to you for my take on what you said,” he said.

Much like Jefferson did, Sharpe then went on to break down the differences between hosts on debate shows who have to watch and study various different sports and analysts like Jefferson who only specialize in analyzing one sport.

But ultimately Sharpe wanted to bury the hatchet and make it clear to the internet that there’s no problems between the two.

“Richard and I do not have a beef,” Sharpe said. “There is nothing going on, and this is my last time addressing this issue.”

Jefferson tweeted on Saturday accepting Shannon’s apology.

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Sports TV News

Media Rights Deals are Recession-Proof, Benefit from Longer Terms

As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year

Jordan Bondurant

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The U.S. economy may be in the “worry” phase about an upcoming recession, but if recent television deals are any indication, sports leagues are not. Media rights deals continue to skyrocket despite all of other financial indicators showing that people, businesses are currently struggling.

As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year. Those are just a couple of examples of the massive figures that seem to run counter what the average person is dealing with.

Media rights seem to be unharmed by overall macroeconomic environment. It’s interesting to look at why.

One of the main reasons seems to be scarcity. There are only so many NFLs in the world. The number might be one. If you have those media rights, you have access to a multitude of cashflow. It’s important to have the product that people want. Since people will not stop wanting their sports, it’s important to have live sports.

Also, fan participation isn’t one that seems to dwindle, overall, even in a pandemic or financial crunch. Fans care about their team, sport and the league they are in. That kind of fervor for a product makes payment to them or to whomever owns their rights to see them, a foregone conclusion.

A huge reason, also, for the value of a franchise and/or media rights deal to be largely unharmed by current economic climates is their length. Those rights are structured to be long-term and hopefully weather whatever financial crisis may be on the horizon in a hope that it is temporary.

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