ESPN Executive VP John Skipper sparked quite a bit of speculation about a potential ESPN-ABC-UFC deal when he attended UFC 100 last month. Dana White even hinted today that he’s getting close to finishing a deal with a new broadcast partner leaving everyone wondering if the UFC will finally find their way onto network television.
If they do, it doesn’t look like it will be with ESPN though (and presumably ABC by association). Fanhouse’s MDS visited ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut today, and got the chance to ask Skipper about a potential deal with the UFC. Unfortunately, he wasn’t very bullish on the possibility.
Skipper said it’s not likely to happen any time soon. ESPN already has a fairly full plate of sports programming, Skipper said, meaning ESPN would only want the absolute best UFC fights. And it’s hard to see how ESPN would benefit from taking its best fights off pay-per-view, where fights can generate upwards of $25 million in revenue.
Ultimately, Skipper says he liked what he saw at UFC 100 but that MMA fans who thought Skipper’s presence at UFC 100 signaled a future deal between ESPN and the UFC shouldn’t get too excited.
“Nothing is imminent,” Skipper said. “I came away with a good impression, but don’t get your hopes up.”
Don’t expect to see any of the UFC’s competitors on ESPN either. Skipper said he’s already talked to the other organizations, but feels “the UFC is by far the best.”