The PFL will remain on ESPN platforms in the United States.
On Thursday morning, the Professional Fighter’s League officials announced that the promotion will continue to air regular season events, playoffs, and world championship events on ESPN and ESPN+ to The Hollywood Reporter.
The deal also includes broadcast rights to the new Super Fight Division, which signed social media personality turned pro boxer Jake Paul and former UFC champion Francis Ngannou, on ESPN+ Pay Per View. According to the press release, the inaugural Super Fight Division event will take place “in early 2024.”
It is a “multi-year deal” although an exact timeframe and financial details were not specified.
ESPN is also the domestic home of the UFC. However, that agreement expires in 2025 and the recent merger with the WWE is likely to play a factor in future negotiations for broadcast rights.
PFL’s Busy 2023
The announcement comes on the heels of a blockbuster 2023 for the PFL. Less than two weeks ago, the company finalized a majority acquisition of direct competitor Bellator MMA as Paramount Global decided to abandon combat sports content altogether at the start of 2024. PFL plans to run Bellator as a rebranded sister promotion in 2024. According to Ariel Helwani, the ESPN renewal does not extend to the Bellator International Champion Series and the PFL is currently shopping for a broadcast partner. So far, it is unclear where the proposed mega fight card pitting both sets of champions against one another will air.
In August, the PFL received a $100 million investment from SRJ Sports Investments, a subsidiary of Saudia Arabia’s Public Investment Fund that is intended to “shape a new era of sports” and “bring new opportunities directly to Saudi Arabia and the wider MENA region.”
PFL CEO Peter Murray described it as part of a larger mission for “global expansion to bring the sport to all regions.”
In May, PFL signed Ngannou in a headline-grabbing coup after the lineal heavyweight champion vacated the UFC as champion following a prolonged and public contractual battle. Ngannou will also head a PFL Africa subdivision, which is tentatively slated to launch in 2025.
Paul entered an exclusive contract for a mixed martial arts debut in January that includes a 50/50 revenue split. Both Ngannou and Paul have yet to announce their promotional debuts.
PFL wrapped up its 2023 season last Friday in Washington, DC with a pay-per-view card that featured six champions being crowned and the debut of former UFC middleweight contender Derek Brunson.