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UFC seeks PPV uplift from Facebook, Tricolor secures UFC TV carriage

Mixed martial arts promotion the Ultimate Fighting Championship has agreed a fresh content agreement with social media platform Facebook designed to showcase its pay-per-view broadcasts.

The one-year deal will see the UFC produce three original shows for Facebook Watch. These will be tied to 12 PPV and eight Fight Night events over the next year and be available for free via the UFC’s Facebook page.

The new shows will include ‘Quick Hits’, a live-streaming interview show produced in-arena during the preliminary fights of UFC events. ‘The Check-In Show’ will be available on-demand and acts as a preview for upcoming events, while ‘Fighter Commentary’ will include insight from UFC fighters on past and future bouts.

The content was rolled out ahead of UFC 246, which was headlined by Conor McGregor announcing his return to action with a 40-second stoppage of Donald Cerrone at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Dave Shaw, UFC’s senior vice-president of content and international, told US media outlet Variety: “Our primary objective is to push viewership and transactions on Saturday nights.

“We’re going to invest a little bit more heavily in this content (on Facebook) so it can have a bigger impact.”

In addition to the exclusive content, UFC will also offer Facebook non-exclusive content such as episodes of ‘Inside the Octagon’. In March, UFC deepened its partnership with ESPN with a deal which placed its pay-per-view events exclusively on OTT streaming service ESPN+ in the United States until 2025.

The PPV deal built on the five-year pact for OTT rights signed in 2018, and extended that agreement by two years – it will now run from 2019 to 2025. ESPN+ raise its PPV price by $5 (€4.5) to $64.99 for UFC 246, with Shaw stating he hopes the Facebook deal will lead to an increase in buys and viewership, both in the US and overseas.

He said: “The deal was constructed by teams in the US but we’re distributing the content as far and wide as possible. We have different targets and objectives in each market.”

In other news, the UFC TV channel will now be available on a direct-to-home basis in Russia after pay-television operator Tricolor agreed a carriage deal. UFC TV will be offered as part of a new sports package and will be available at a cost of R299 (€4/$5) per month to Tricolor’s DTH customers.

The UFC and Russian company Media Telecom announced the launch of UFC TV, a dedicated channel in Russia and CIS, back in April.