Professional Fighters League extends rights deal with ESPN through '23

Under the previous deal, more events aired on ESPN2 than ESPN proper and not all were simulcast on ESPN+PFL

The Professional Fighters League has "extended a deal with ESPN starting with its 2022 kickoff event April 20," according to Jill Goldsmith of The entire '22 PFL playoffs and majority of regular-season events will air live on ESPN and will be "simulcast on ESPN+ with additional event coverage broadcast on ESPN2." ESPN platforms "will carry pre and post-event coverage and exclusive PFL content." They also will "push into pay-per-view." The agreement runs through '23 with an "option to extend." Under the previous deal, "more events aired on ESPN2 than ESPN proper and not all were simulcast on ESPN+." PFL events also will run on ESPN Deportes and in Canada on TSN. PFL CEO Peter Murray said that "ratings surged last season" and he "anticipates revenue quadrupling in 2022 from 2021" (, 1/25).

FIGHT FOR IT: In Miami, Jim Varsallone noted the league's inaugural PFL Challenger Series "will be at Universal Studios in Orlando, beginning Friday, Feb. 18 and airing exclusively on Fubo Sports Network." The PFL Challenger Series is a platform in which MMA fighters "can earn their way into the league." Fighters from around the world "will compete each week for a PFL contract that will either put them in the 2022 Regular Season or set them on a development path with the League in hopes of joining a future season" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/25).

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SBJ Spotlight: TikTok’s threat to traditional sports media

While tech companies are consumed with finding ways to compete with TikTok, almost no one in conventional media “spends any time talking about it,” said Recode senior correspondent Peter Kafka in an Spotlight interview with SBJ’s John Ourand. “To me, that’s just an obvious disconnect.” Kafka authored a recent column headlined, “It’s TikTok’s world. Can TV live in it?” He said the main response to TikTok’s growth from traditional media execs has been to “punt and hope it’s someone else’s problem a quarter from now or two years from now.” But Kafka said that ignores the trend of conventional broadcast audiences growing older while a billion younger consumers spend most of their media time watching short video after short video. “If you’re in the business of getting anyone under the age of 30 to look at what you’re putting on a screen, you have to think about the fact that you’re probably asking them to put down TikTok and watch your thing instead,” said Kafka. “That’s a very difficult ask. … [TikTok] is insanely addictive.”

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