EXCLUSIVE: Combate Americas, an emerging Hispanic mixed-martial-arts circuit that started live bouts in 2015, has reached a three-year partnership with Univision and Grupo Televisa worth an eight-figure sum.
Although not in the same financial bracket as the UFC’s $1.5 billion pact with ESPN or Bellator’s nine-figure agreement with DAZN and Viacom, the Combate deal marks a significant milestone, according to the companies. They are proclaiming this as the first cross-border deal for combat sports, with Univision and Televisa set to deliver live fights via their recently relaunched TUDN sports brands in the U.S. and Mexico. TUDN broadcasts across TV networks, radio and mobile apps, delivering a range of sports, notably soccer.
While Combate fights have aired on Univision since 2018, the new deal dramatically expands the relationship. The agreement includes more than a dozen live events through the end of 2019 and 35 of them in 2020.
Televisa, a dominant and well-entrenched producer of TV programming for Spanish-speaking audiences, owns 36% of Univision (with regulatory permission to increase its stake to 49%). In 2017, Televisa merged its production and development operations with Univision’s. Earlier this year, the two major entities combined their sports efforts under the rebooted TUDN banner.
“Not since I launched the UFC, have I done anything this big for the sport,” Combate Americas CEO Campbell McLaren said. “This historic deal will bring MMA to a completely new audience and new generation of fans and accelerate our company mission to become the No. 2 sport globally with Hispanic fans.”
Univision President of Sports Juan Carlos Rodriguez said the pact would add an important new element to the company’s sports menu. “Combate Americas has done an incredible job tapping into our community’s appetite for thrilling, action-packed competition and developing a strong affinity for mixed martial arts,” he said. “Their live events have delivered strong viewership for Univision and TUDN, serving as a perfect complement to our unmatched portfolio of live soccer rights. We are thrilled to continue to partner with the premier Hispanic MMA franchise.”
Live shows will air on Fridays at midnight in 90-minute windows following a live stream of Combate
Americas’ preliminary bout card.
Univision first partnered with Combate Americas in 2018, airing 10 events across its flagship broadcast network and Univision Deportes, the top-rated Spanish-language sports network in the U.S. Broadcast fights in 2018 averaged 431,000 total viewers, which Univision said was a 51% jump from Telemundo’s average in the same timeslot in 2017.
Since its 2015 launch, Combate Americas has featured cage matches with fighters from the U.S., Latin America and Spain. In addition to Univision and TUDN, programming featuring the circuit streams on DAZN, Pluto TV and Facebook Watch. The company also owns and operates the multi-platform La Jaula Studios.