The UFC and sports channel MatchTV have reached an agreement to broadcast regular events in Russia throughout 2017.
Following a month of difficult negotiations and various stalemates, the UFC reached an agreement for a new TV deal in Russia, starting with the upcoming pay-per-view show in Las Vegas.
Back in January, Match TV announced that the UFC had handed over the programme licensing to a “local Russian mediator,” who raised the asking price by “multiples.” As negotiations took a turn for the worse, Match TV sent out a press release apologizing to fans for no longer being able to carry UFC events on their network. For a while, it appeared as though Khabib Nurmagomedov’s interim title fight would not be broadcast in the Russian Federation.
The reason behind the aggressive negotiation tactics was due to the UFC’s interest in a lucrative TV deal in Russia. According to sources close to the Russian broadcasting company who spoke to BloodyElbow on the condition of anonymity, the UFC’s 2016 deal with MatchTV was worth “approximately $500,000 annually”. However, once UFC ownership transferred over to WME-IMG, the Hollywood powerbrokers targeted dramatically increased profits, which included new TV deals internationally.
With a renewed interest in profitability in the Russian market, the UFC sold the TV rights to Telesport, an organization that primarily focuses on sponsoring sports events and advertising on sports broadcasts. Telesport then took over negotiations with MatchTV as a third-part mediator. They were eventually able to secure a more lucrative offer for the UFC.
Match TV released a statement confirming the new deal on Tuesday afternoon:
“The negotiation process was difficult, and we are grateful to our partners for their mutual interest in staging UFC broadcasts in 2017. We are seeing increased attention for this tournament, not only in the media, but also among viewers,” said Tina Kandelaki, CEO of Match TV. “We are confident that all broadcasts will bring great pleasure and enhance sports viewership. We believe that the start of the season with the fight of Khabib Nurmagomedov will lead to even greater increase in the audience to the sport.”
UFC 209 takes place on March 4 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and will feature an interim title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson.