Disney’s Robert Iger Estimates UFC 246 Pulled in “About 1 Million” PPV Buys, Added Half a Million Subscribers to ESPN+

Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone
Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone square off ahead of UFC 246. Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Despite no title being on the line and few public appearances by star Conor McGregor prior to fight week, UFC 246 looks to have hit the million buy mark.

UFC PPV numbers have long been a bit of a guessing game. The promotion has never released numbers (and were not required to). However, their partnership with ESPN has led to increased transparency, at least on a limited basis. Case in point, Disney’s Q1 earnings call on Tuesday had Chairman and CEO Robert Iger floating an approximate buyrate for UFC 246, a.k.a. the return of Conor McGregor.

During the earnings call, aimed at Disney shareholders, Iger addressed ESPN+, the streaming service of ESPN, which is also the exclusive provider of UFC PPV events in the United States.

We ended the quarter with 6.6 million paid subscribers and as of Monday, we were at 7.6 million,” trumpeted Iger (full transcript via Motley Fool). “We’ve been especially happy with a number of partnerships, particularly with the UFC and the recent McGregor-Cerrone fight brought in about 1 million pay-per-view purchases and 0.5 million new subscribers.”

While that one million estimate may seem a bit under past estimations, keep in mind that it would only apply to U.S. purchases, and would not include any closed circuit orders. A number of other territories, including the U.S. and overseas locations, still serve up UFC events via traditional PPV providers over cable/satellite. Meaning the final tally is more than likely over a million buys.

UFC 246 marked the return to action of Conor McGregor, fighting for the first time since UFC 229 in October 2018. He dispatched longtime UFC/WEC veteran Donald Cerrone in forty seconds in the main event.

UFC 229 was purportedly the highest-grossing PPV in company history, with over two million buys suggested by UFC President Dana White.