Even in the streaming era of pay-per-views, Conor McGregor is still big business for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
During a company conference call, Disney CEO and Chairman Robert Iger revealed that UFC 246 drew 1 million pay-per-view buys to ESPN+. UFC 246 took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Jan. 18 and saw McGregor defeat Cerrone via first-round technical knockout in the evening’s main event. McGregor, the promotion’s biggest star, hadn’t competed in the Octagon since October 2018.
“Looking across our portfolio of direct to consumer businesses, we're also pleased with the growth of ESPN+,” Iger said. “We ended the quarter with 6.6 million paid subscribers and as of Monday, we were at 7.6 million. We've been especially happy with a number of partnerships, particularly with the UFC and the recent McGregor-Cerrone fight brought in about 1 million pay-per-view purchases and 0.5 million new subscribers.”
While the exact figure is unclear, it appears that UFC 246 is the largest selling streaming pay-per-view ever, surpassing the 814,000 buys earned by the Logan Paul vs. KSI celebrity boxing match. While that fight was sold at price points between $8 and $10, the UFC 246 pay-per-view cost $64.99 in additional to the $4.99 ESPN+ monthly subscription fee required to be able to order the event.
According to a report from MMAFighting.com, those streaming pay-per-view figures were only for the United States market. The UFC sold McGregor vs. Cerrone as a television pay-per-view event in international markets such as Canada, Australia, the U.K. and Ireland.
McGregor’s previous bout, a loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229, is believed to have sold in the neighborhood of 2.4 million pay-per-view buys, the most in company history. UFC president Dana White has indicated that a rematch between Nurmagomedov and McGregor could be in the offing if the lightweight champion defeats Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 in April.
The UFC began its partnership with ESPN in 2019. Its debut event, UFC Fight Night 143 in Brooklyn, N.Y., helped ESPN+ gain 568,000 new subscribers. ESPN+ become the sole provider of the UFC’s pay-per-view events in the United States beginning with UFC 236 in April 2019.