UFC Fight Night Draws Record Subscribers for Disney's ESPN+

(Bloomberg) -- ESPN+’s debut of UFC Fight Night on Saturday drew a record number of subscribers, marking the largest catalyst for Walt Disney Co.’s premium sports video service.

The streaming service added 568,000 new subscribers over the weekend, with more than 90 percent coming in on Saturday, the company said. In contrast, it took ESPN+ five months to surpass 1 million paying subscribers when it launched the service in April.

Saturday night’s mixed-martial-arts event “continued the momentum for ESPN+, delivered strong ratings on ESPN and marks a great start to our new agreement with the UFC,” said Kevin Mayer, Disney’s direct-to-consumer division chief.

UFC Fight Night Draws Record Subscribers for Disney's ESPN+

Among traditional media companies, Disney is making the biggest bet on streaming and monthly subscriptions. In addition to ESPN+ and Hulu, the company is expected to show off its highly anticipated Disney+ streaming service at an April 11 investor meeting, offering a peek at a platform that will provide a head-on challenge to Netflix Inc.
The 13 Ultimate Fighting Championship fights live from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center aired on ESPN in English and ESPN Deportes in Spanish. Henry Cejudo defended his flyweight championship against bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw in a 32-second finish. It was the highest-rated UFC Fight Night Prelims on cable in six years.

Saturday night’s event was the first fight card of ESPN+’s five-year agreement with UFC, where it will offer 20 exclusive UFC Fight Night events a year.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.