Fight Pass Grabs Exclusive Cage Warriors TV Rights
By Keith Turrell
UFC Fight Pass, the subscription based online streaming service for the MMA leader has secured exclusive rights to all live events for UK promotion Cage Warriors as reported in The Sunday Times this past weekend and confirmed through Twitter by Cage Warriors president Graham Boylan.
This will mean that the MMA promotion will no longer air on BT Sport, the British television network that has been the home for Cage Warriors UK coverage since 2016. Fight Pass have secured a three-year deal for the rights and according to the Times’ article a source close to Cage Warriors stated that offers from several TV companies including BT Sport were “blown out of the water” by the streaming service.
Cage Warriors looks set for a bumper start to the year with four events scheduled within the first four months featuring many of its biggest names. Fans however, will need to head online to experience all the action if they aren’t able to make it to the events in person.
While viewership numbers aren’t made public by either Cage Warriors or UFC Fight Pass it would seem safe to assume that the streaming ratings are high enough to overcome any dip in exposure that this move will cause.
On its surface the deal that Cage Warriors had with BT Sport looked like a perfect one; allowing UK MMA fans and casual viewers the chance to see the nation’s leading promotion on the same network that broadcasts the UFC could only be good for its brand awareness and following. Now that the events will be behind a subscription pay wall that is geared mainly towards a hardcore MMA audience it will be interesting to see what effect this will have on Cage Warriors standing as the premier promotion in the UK, especially when we consider that Bellator is currently in negotiations to broadcast its new European Series events on free-to-air television.
UFC Fight Pass has come a long way in the last few years. Originally a streaming outlet and archive database for the UFC and its owned properties it has expanded to feature live events from numerous MMA promotions from around the world including Japan’s Pancrase, all women’s MMA organisation Invicta FC and Canada’s TKO MMA as well as featuring other combat sports and martial arts events such as Glory Kickboxing and EBI grappling.
Heading into 2019 it will air boxing for the first time as it has inked a deal with celebrated boxer Roy Jones Jr. to broadcast his promotion’s fight cards.
Cage Warriors will add to its growing exclusive content lineup and will look to benefit from the service’s aggressive strategy as it attempts to attract more subscribers.