UFC’s new partnership with Chinese digital media company Migu has nearly doubled the value of its media rights in the country, according to someone familiar with the agreement. It’s also the latest sign of the fighting promotion’s growth and ambitions in the world’s most populous country.
The new five-year partnership with Migu, a subsidiary of state-owned China Mobile, is in the high eight-figures, according the person, who was granted anonymity because the contract is private. That’s close to double the value of UFC’s prior five-year deal with PPTV, inked in 2016, which has been reported to be roughly $50 million.
UFC, which called the deal “one of the most significant international partnerships in UFC history,” declined to comment on the terms. A representative for China Mobile didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
UFC, which is majority owned by Endeavor, has invested significant time and money into growing its presence in China. That includes a new $13 million performance center in Shanghai, a partnership with the Chinese Olympic Committee, and an upcoming series of fights featuring emerging talent in Asia.
Those efforts are bearing fruit both in the octagon and outside. In 2019, Zhang Weili became the first Chinese fighter to hold a UFC title, which made her a national sensation. Other Chinese fighters include Song Yadong and Yan Xiaonan.
UFC says its has more than 173.8 million fans in China—more than half the total U.S. population. The promotion has more than 10 million followers on social platforms like Weibo, Wechat and Bilibili.
“There has never been more talent, more fans, and more energy and momentum for UFC in China than right now,” UFC President Dana White said in a statement.
Migu will carry an annual schedule of at least 12 pay-per-view UFC fights, plus 30 other top-tier events. It will also distribute Dana White’s Contender Series, a fight series that showcases emerging talent, including some that train in Shanghai.
Beyond live fights on Migu, UFC will distribute exclusive content on the Migu Fitness app, partner with Migu on production technology, and collaborate on original content, such as documentaries and reality shows. It also says it will continue to increase the number of events it hosts in China.
Migu is one of China’s leading digital media companies, with divisions that focus on comics, music, fitness, video and interactive entertainment. Its sports partners include the NBA, La Liga and the Asian Football Confederation.