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BT Sport lose rights to broadcast UFC

Updated: Aug 9, 2018

It is understood that BT Sport has lost the right to broadcast the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events along with the other programs such as The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), the UFC’s own reality TV show.

A spokesperson told BBC news that BT Sport will not bid any more than the rights to broadcasting the UFC is worth to them.

The UFC is a popular draw to BT Sport and considering it has lost the rights to other big sports such as the NBA, and Italian football, it looks like many customers could be cancelling their subscription once the BT Sport deal ends with the UFC.

When will BT Sport stop showing the UFC?

It is understood that BT Sport will continue broadcasting the UFC up until 3 December 2018, so there is still plenty of time to enjoy UFC events until then.

Where will the UFC be broadcast in the UK after BT Sport?

It hasn’t been confirmed who will take on the broadcasting rights for the UFC in the UK and Europe, but one of the front runners is Eleven Sport, which is an online streaming platform which has outbid BT sport for the Italian football and recently acquired the rights for Portuguese combat sports.

Questions about the UFC price

Whilst the UFC remains the top MMA promotion in the world, it appears that it has been struggling with retaining and getting viewers to watch its events. An example of this is last weekends UFC on FOX 30 in Calgary. It had the lowest ratings in the series history, despite having some big names and important fights on the card. It has also been reported their pay per views (PPV’s) have been low this year.

Eddie Alvarez vs Dustin Poirier at UFC Calgary this weekend

It is possible the UFC is saturating the market, showing events weekly. This may be putting people off watching all of its events. Too much choice is enabling viewers to select which fighters or PPV’s to watch.

It has also been noted that other promotions such as Bellator in the US and One Championship has started attracting a lot of attention, in particular Bellator with UFC fighters leaving to join the promotion and it having the interesting concept of the Grand Prix type tournaments.

What’s next for the UFC?

I think the UFC has a lot to consider with many fans being upset by all the interim champions – reducing the worth of the division and the championship itself, whole weight class’s being held up for 12 months or more because of injured fighters or a fighter holding multiple belts, the ranking systems being meaningless, along with the weightcutting and USADA drugs testing issues.

When the UFC was the only main promotion, it could have got away with some of the above, but with MMA fans having plenty of choice where to watch MMA, I think the UFC needs to get things back in order.

It is possible the loss of BT Sport as a broadcaster could slow or damage the sports popularity in the UK – but only time will tell. Thanks for reading.

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