The UFC will be registering an enormous milestone this coming Saturday with the promotion’s first ever nationally televised broadcast on a big four network. The main card of the UFC’s seventh “Fight Island” installment will air on ABC at 3PM Eastern Time. This marks the first time the UFC has ever aired on a “big four” network and is a product of the company’s deal with Disney.
The historic feat will make for an excellent start to the new year for the UFC, which saw enormous success in 2020. The UFC had the distinction of being the last major North American sport on as of last March and, the first sport to return. The historic UFC 249 card featured a stacked lineup and drew 700,000 pay-per-view buys. More importantly, the Jacksonville cards kicked off a nonstop summer of action for the UFC that led to a huge spike in ratings and social media engagement.
The UFC 249 prelims aired on ESPN and drew solid ratings. This would continue throughout the summer as other major sports slowly returned to action. Fight Island cards came later and have been a huge success, with the hashtag generating tens of millions of clicks across social media. The long awaited clash between Jorge Masvidal and Kamaru Usman took place on Fight Island and generated 1.3 million pay-per-view buys; one of the promotion’s highest totals for a non-McGregor event.
Now, the UFC is getting a front and center promotion opportunity just a week ahead of McGregor-Poirier II. Disney CEO Bob Iger recently revealed that ESPN + had gained over 1 million new subscribers in anticipation of the McGregor card. The UFC distributes several Fight Night cards exclusively through ESPN + and the service is required for pay-per-views in the U.S. As such, McGregor’s presence atop a card has boosted subscriptions that much.
It will be very interesting to see where McGregor-Poirier II will land on the all time most bought MMA pay-per-views, but the marketing behind the fight could certainly produce close to 2 million buys.