Viaplay, the European sports media heavyweight, has today extended its exclusive rights deal covering mixed martial arts’ (MMA) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in four Nordic countries.
Through a multi-year renewal, fans in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland will be able to watch over 40 UFC events live each year, through the Viaplay streaming service – including all numbered UFC events and Fight Nights.
In addition to every main card fight – these will all be shown with local language commentary – the streaming heavyweight will also cover preliminary bouts “from all events when a Nordic fighter is competing.”
Viaplay (formerly NENT) has covered UFC action live in the Nordic countries for the last few years.
The next UFC event covered by Viaplay will take place tomorrow (January 13), with the UFC Fight Night: ANKALAEV VS. WALKER 2.
The first numbered UFC event covered by the new deal, meanwhile, will be held on January 20 – UFC 297 in Toronto, Canada.
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David Shaw, executive vice president of international and content at UFC, has said: “We have had a long partnership with Viaplay and we really couldn’t ask for a better counterpart to help grow our brand in the Nordics. Their passion and dedication to UFC has been instrumental to our business, and we look forward to continuing to build stars and deliver the best MMA events in the world to our fans in the Nordics.”
This year has already seen Sony Pictures Network (SPN), the Indian broadcasting group, announce an extension to its deal with UFC through 2028. The renewal, which covers India and the Indian subcontinent, sees SPN retain the rights to broadcast 42 live UFC events, including 12 numbered pay-per-view shows and 30 UFC Fight Night events, as well as original programs.
In addition, TKO Group, the combat sports giant formed out of the merger of UFC and the World Wrestling Entertainment promotion, unveiled a combination of the commercial teams of the two organizations last week.
Peter Norrelund, Viaplay Group’s executive vice president and chief sports and business development officer, added: “No MMA promotion attracts a bigger audience than UFC, in the Nordic region or worldwide. Extending our long-term partnership with UFC reflects our commitment to offering the most relevant sports to our viewers, and to supporting MMA’s ongoing growth. We look forward to bringing spectacular fight action to even more fans over the coming years on Viaplay as part of our unique live sports portfolio.”
Earlier this week, Viaplay announced the hiring of Roger Lodewick to head up its operations in the Netherlands.
He will serve as senior vice president and chief executive (CEO) and hold commercial and operational responsibility for the Viaplay streaming service in the country.
The financially beleaguered media company recently reported a third-quarter net loss of SEK693 million ($66.2 million), with its share price reaching a new low of SEK4.68.
This year has already seen French TV heavyweight Canal Plus and PPF Group, a European investment firm based in Prague, Czech Republic. announce that they will increase their stakes in Viaplay to 29% each. They both took smaller initial stakes in mid-2023.
Shareholders have now approved a recapitalization plan that will raise in the region of $390 million, at a general meeting on January 10.
In addition, there will be a write-off of SEK2 billion worth of existing debt obligations and an extension of existing bank and band commitments worth SEK14.6 billion.
Viaplay has said the recapitalization plan will see the broadcaster well placed to “achieve its objectives of focusing on its core Nordic, Netherlands, and Viaplay Select operations and gradually returning to double-digit operating profit [Ebit] margins and healthy cashflow generation.”
The streaming service has already agreed to sell its UK operations back to Premier Sports – the network which Viaplay entered into a deal with to launch its UK presence originally in November 2022.
At its peak, Viaplay operated in as many as 13 countries, including the US and the UK, but has now divested completely from many of these, consolidating its operations around Scandinavia.