Jason High (red gloves) fights Caros Fodor (blue gloves) lightweight event during Professional Fighters League: Daytona at Daytona International Speedway on June 30, 2017 in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images
Sports gamblers can now legally bet on bouts in the mixed martial arts Professional Fighters League after a partnership with betting firm DraftKings.
Under the agreement, the DraftKings logo will be placed around PFL fighting cages, betting odds will be integrated into PFL broadcasts featured on Disney‘s ESPN network, and DraftKings will offer heavy promotion of the league. Wagers on PFL matches can be placed in states where online sports betting is legal.
The agreement is a multiyear, seven figure deal, meaning it’s worth less than $10 million.
In an interview with CNBC on Monday, PFL CEO Peter Murray declined to reveal specific financial terms but said it’s “a combination of rights fees around exclusivity for our official sportsbook in the U.S. And it’s a combination of license fees for the data; marketing and sponsorship.”
DraftKings becomes PFL’s first sportsbook and will sponsor a prefight show and use PFL’s in-fighting technology, which captures real-time data on fighters to help fuel future prop bets. Those wagers are in-fight bets placed around estimations like a fighter’s punch and kick speed while competing.
PFL is a single-entity league controlled by investors that include prominent sports and entertainment figures like Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner and actor Kevin Hart. The league has a regular season and a postseason and concludes with six championship competitions. Fighters usually receive $1 million if they win.
PFL said it is expanding after it raised $65 million in February, bringing its total to $175 million. After the funding round, Reuters reported PFL was valued at roughly $400 million. Asked about that figure, Murray declined to comment on PFL’s valuation.
Pavlo Gonchar | LightRocket | Getty Images
Still, the league appears positioned for growth in 2021 with international expansion in the plans.
Aside from its partnership with DraftKings, PFL also partnered with Twitter in an advertisement revenue-sharing model. The social media company will leverage PFL content, including during fights, and use its new audio feature, Twitter Spaces, to stage conversations between influencers and fans. The parties will divide the ad revenue from the content.
“Our mission is simple – reimage and grow the sport and we’ll scale the league,” Murray said. “After the (2020) season, our focus is on executing the product combined with expanding the audience, and Twitter is an example of that.”
PFL is expected to announce distribution deals in France and Germany. Murray said the company wants to renew its ESPN deal after the 2021 season, which is expected to conclude in June. PFL wants to capitalize on plans to increase its fighting events from 10 to 16.
“We’re excited about a long-term partnership with ESPN,” Murray said. ‘We’ll be talking about 2022 and forward after the regular season.”
DraftKings is also partnered with top martial arts company UFC. The company reached perhaps its most significant sports partnership last week, becoming one of three betting operators to align with the National Football League.
DraftKings stock was down 2% on Monday, closing at $56.68 per share. The company has a market cap of $22.5 billion.