Here to stay: PFL signs multi-year extension with broadcast partner ESPN

Since its inception, the Professional Fighters League has partnered with ESPN. That relationship will continue past the 2023 PFL Finals, as the promotion has agreed to a multi-year renewal with ESPN to broadcast the majority of its promotional events on ESPN platforms.

The Hollywood Reporter was the first to announce the news. Per the report, and a press release, the deal will see the PFL’s regular season, playoffs, and championship events, including the finals, air on ESPN and ESPN+. The Super Fight division, PPV events with bouts featuring the likes of Francis Ngannou, Jake Paul, and Amanda Serrano, will also air on ESPN platforms.

“We’ve had five successful seasons on ESPN, and we’re excited for the next phase of growth for MMA and the Professional Fighters League with this agreement,” PFL CEO Peter Murray said. “Our innovative sport-season format, elite roster of athletes, and the launch of the PFL PPV Super Fight Division, which will feature some of the world’s greatest combat sports stars such as Francis Ngannou and Jake Paul, are ushering in the new era of MMA as a mainstream global sports entertainment platform.”

MORE: Sign up to watch the PFL 2024 season, exclusively on ESPN+

Murray also told The Hollywood Reporter that the PFL is creating a global powerhouse in MMA. This comes after the promotion acquired Bellator MMA. Bellator will continue to be a separate brand, but there will be cross-promotion cards with Bellator and PFL fighters. That includes a champions vs. champions event in 2024. As of now, an announcement for a broadcast partner for Bellator was not announced. 

Other aspects of the PFL not announced in the deal were the Challenger Series and PFL Europe. PFL Europe currently airs on DAZN in the U.K. Former kickboxing champion Cedric Doumbe recently signed up to that particular league. The PFL expects to also launch an International League series, with fights in Africa, among other locations. 

The PFL just finished the Championship Finals, with six champions crowned, including Impa Kasanganay and Larissa Pacheco. It also saw the return of Kayla Harrison and the PFL debut of former UFC fighter Derek Brunson. Ngannou, who faced WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in a boxing fight this year, also signed on. Speaking of boxers, the PFL renewed a deal with Claressa Shields and locked in Amanda Serrano and Savannah Marshall.

MORE: Breaking down the purse and salary history of PFL fighters

Another promotion that signed with ESPN and ESPN+ is the UFC. The UFC signed a seven-year, $300 million deal running through 2025. It is unknown if the promotion will share ESPN+ with the PFL or move on afterwards.

“We have a great relationship with ESPN, love our relationship with them, and we have a year left until we can start our renewal,” Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel said at a Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom conference via MMA Fighting. “I think it’s going to be a positive outcome for both parties, but there’s a lot of buyers out there.”

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