Sports bettors can now legally bet on matches in the mixed martial arts Professional Fighters League following a partnership with betting company DraftKings.
Under the agreement, the DraftKings logo will be placed around PFL fighting cages, the bets will be integrated into PFL broadcasts on Disney’s ESPN network, and DraftKings will offer heavy promotion of the competition. Bets on PFL matches can be placed in states where online sports betting is legal.
The deal is a seven-figure multi-year deal, meaning it’s worth less than $10 million.
In an interview with CNBC on Monday, PFL CEO Peter Murray declined to disclose specific financial terms, but said it’s “a combination of rights fees around exclusivity to our official sportsbook in the U.S. And it’s a combination of license fees for the data; marketing and sponsorship.”
DraftKings will be PFL’s first sportsbook, sponsoring a prefight show and using PFL’s in-fighting technology, which captures real-time data about fighters to drive future prop betting. Those bets are in-fight bets placed around estimates such as a fighter’s punch and kick speed during a match.
PFL is a single entity league run by investors including prominent sports and entertainment figures such as Mark Lerner, owner of Washington Nationals and actor Kevin Hart. The competition has a regular season and a post-season and ends with six championship competitions. Fighters usually receive $1 million when they win.
PFL said it will expand after being raised $65 million in February, bringing the total to $175 million. After the financing round Reuters reported PFL was valued at about $400 million. When asked about that figure, Murray declined to comment on PFL’s rating.
Still, the league seems poised for growth in 2021 with international expansion in the pipeline.
Aside from partnering with DraftKings, PFL also partnered with Twitter on an ad revenue sharing model. The social media company will leverage PFL content, including during combat, and use its new audio feature, Twitter Spaces, to spark conversations between influencers and fans. The parties will divide the advertising revenue over the content.
“Our mission is simple: reimagine and grow the sport and we will scale the competition,” said Murray. “After the (2020) season, our focus will be on running the product in tandem with increasing the audience, and Twitter is an example of that.”
PFL is expected to announce distribution agreements in France and Germany. Murray said the company is looking to extend its ESPN deal beyond the 2021 season, which is expected to end in 2021 June-. PFL wants to take advantage of plans to increase the number of fighting events from 10 to 16.
“We are excited about a long-term partnership with ESPN,” said Murray. “We are talking about 2022 and after the regular season.”
DraftKings also works with top martial art company UFC. The company reached arguably its most important sports partnership last week, becoming one of three betting operators to join the National Football League.
Shares of DraftKings fell 2% Monday, closing at $56.68 a share. The company has a market capitalization of $22.5 billion.