UFC Announces $350 Million Deal With DraftKings

By | March 5, 2021
  • DraftKings will become the official sportsbook partner of UFC
  • DraftKings will sponsor a special countdown clock visible to both fighters and fans
  • DraftKings expected to generate up to $1 billion in revenue this year alone

On Thursday, the UFC announced that it has agreed to a five-year deal with DraftKings. The deal will make DraftKings the official sports betting and daily fantasy partner of UFC in the United States and Canada. The total value of the deal is valued around $350 million, which includes both cash and marketing, according to ESPN.

DraftKings will reportedly pay the UFC something in the “low nine figures” range as a part of the deal. Regardless of the actual number, that makes it one of the most lucrative contracts ever struck between a sportsbook and a professional sports league in recent years.

UFC president Dana White described the partnership as,

“the most important deal we’ve ever done to increase engagement with our fans and reach new ones.”

He also described the pact as “massive.”

Under the terms of the deal, DraftKings will have the rights to licensing a countdown clock during UFC broadcasts. The UFC will also air live DraftKings betting odds during televised fights.

UFC’s Growing Popularity

It’s just the latest in a series of huge moves for DraftKings. DK’s chief business officer, Ezra Kucharz, said the aforementioned clock will be visible in the arena, as well. Kucharz said,

“It’s going to allow the fighter and the fans the ability to see the time left in a round the way they haven’t before. It’s a big deal because it’ll be integrated into the production technology, and fans and fighters will have the ability to see the countdown clock that people traditionally see watching at home.”

The deal with DraftKings comes shortly after the UFC agreed to a $1.5 billion media rights deal with ESPN. White said,

“This is a massive deal that will benefit UFC, DraftKings, and most of all, the fans. DraftKings is the best at what they do in the betting and daily fantasy space, and unlike other sports, UFC has no off-season. The action will be nonstop for fans of UFC and DraftKings.”

UFC’s popularity is at an all-time high from both a viewership and a sports betting standpoint. DraftKings has reported more interest in UFC betting on its platforms as more and more states have started to legalize sports betting. 20 states and Washington DC currently allow for legalized sports betting, with many more states and jurisdictions expected to follow suit. Five more states have legalized sports betting but haven’t yet opened their industries for business. DraftKings’ mobile betting operation is currently live in 12 states.

DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said,

“Combat sports, and UFC in particular, have scaled significantly across both our sportsbook and daily fantasy verticals, evolving from a niche offering to a high-demand category that we believe will only grow further as we innovate.”

DraftKings’ clock will be visible starting with UFC 259 this weekend.

DraftKings’ Upward Trajectory

More DraftKings-related integrations are expected to follow. UFC COO Lawrence Epstein told ESPN,

“One of the things we can do is see more robust data-generation from UFC events that can be used in gaming. We’re optimistic that in a relative short period of time we’re going to have a lot more in-game, real-time data that’s going to enhance the gaming experience on UFC.”

This deal was a long time coming, especially considering UFC has been at the forefront of the battle to legalize sports betting across the US. UFC came out in favor of legalized sports betting before the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and other leagues did the same. The UFC had done some business with DraftKings in the past, but Thursday’s announcement solidifies the relationship between the two moving forward.

The NBA, NHL, PGA Tour, and MLB are among the leagues with official sportsbook partnerships already in place.

DraftKings reported $322 million in fourth-quarter revenue from 2020. Looking ahead, DraftKings has increased its revenue projection from about $750 million to nearly $1 billion.

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