by Dane McGuire
The Professional Fighters League is staying put with ESPN through 2023 following the
announcement of an extension via Deadline.
Most of the 2022 PFL regular season and all of the playoffs will air live on ESPN, simulcast on
ESPN+ and additional coverage will be on ESPN2. Deadline reports the deal lasts through 2023
with an option to extend.
ESPN platforms will carry pre and post-event coverage and other exclusive content with
Deadline referring to a previous four-part series on Claressa Shields prior to the champion
boxer’s MMA debut.
“After two successful seasons of providing fans with premium MMA content alongside ESPN,
PFL is proud to extend and expand our partnership,” PFL CEO Peter Murray said.
“As MMA continues to grow as a major sport and rights property, innovative and differentiated
product fulfills the demand among fans for access to the world’s best fighters and events,”
“As the home of combat sports, ESPN looks forward to continuing to deliver exciting, live PFL
events and powerful storytelling to fans, across all platforms,” said Matt Kenny, ESPN VP,
President of Programming and Acquisitions.
While Murray declined to share financial details with Deadline as the PFL is a private business,
he expects revenue to “quadruple” in 2022 compared to last year.
“MMA is the growth sport of this decade. There are 550 million fans around the world, it’s the
third largest sport behind soccer and basketball and it’s the youngest of all major fan bases,” he
said. Half of that base watches a lot and is underserved.
“ESPN has committed to being a destination of MMA with its UFC relationship and now PFL
[which] presents a premium product on a different night of the week that is complementary and
differentiated from UFC, to help to fill that demand and grow the space,” Murray said — referring
to PFL’s much larger MMA rival, Ultimate Fighting Championship, owned by Endeavor. UFC has
1,207 athletes listed on its website and revenue pushing $300 million.
PFL’s format is unusual for the sport — regular season, playoffs and championship. Athletes
“know who they are fighting, when they are fighting,” he said. “They have two guaranteed fights
a season and if they make the playoffs we measure their performance with points,” including
extra points for finishing fights versus leaving it to the judges. “That means more exciting fights.”