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Professional Fighters League secures deals with NBC Sports, Facebook

The Professional Fighters League mixed martial arts promotion has agreed rights deals with the NBC Sports Group division of US media company NBCUniversal and social media platform Facebook.

NBC Sports will establish an exclusive Thursday night PFL fight franchise, with the broadcaster to exclusively present seven regular-season live events from June 7 until the end of August.

Events shown by NBC Sports Network will also be streamed on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Regular-season events will also have repeat broadcasts on NBCSN later the same night.

Facebook, meanwhile, will stream up to six hours of free, live coverage of each event to audiences outside of the US. Facebook will bookend each event with 30-minute live shows. In the US, users can also watch the first three hours of undercard coverage of each event on Facebook prior to NBCSN’s coverage of the main bouts.

The PFL said the partnerships would open the promotion to approximately 300 million MMA fans worldwide.

In other news, the PFL has appointed Peter Murray as its new chief executive. Murray previously held senior executive positions at US sportswear manufacturer Under Armour and the NFL American football league.

Murray will lead the existing PFL executive team which includes president Carlos Silva, executive vice-president George Greenberg, head of fighting operations Ray Sefo, and Will Blair, executive vice-president of brand partnerships and media sales.

The PFL, formerly known as the World Series of Fighting, began operating under its current guise last year. The 2018 season consists of seven regular-season events, a bracket-style playoff and a $10m (€8.1m) post-season prize pool. Seventy-two athletes will compete in the inaugural season across six different weight classes.

The PFL claims to be the first organisation ever to present MMA as a true sport that features a regular season, playoffs, and championship.

"Today is an enormous step forward for the PFL and our mission of re-imagining and growing the sport of MMA," Russ Ramsey, executive chairman of the Professional Fighters League, said. "We're thrilled to offer broad distribution for our first season, with great media partners in NBC Sports Network and Facebook. Pete Murray is an accomplished marketer and builder in sports and media, making him the ideal leader to deliver the innovative experience to MMA fans and build the PFL brand.”