Saturday's UFC 249 generated about 700,000 pay-per-view buys on ESPN+ in the United States, sources told John Ourand of Sports Business Journal.
Justin Gaethje captured the interim lightweight title with a fifth-round TKO of Tony Ferguson in the main event, which took place behind closed doors at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville. Neither fighter was a proven pay-per-view draw.
The card was the first major sporting event in the U.S. since the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the sports and entertainment world in March. UFC president Dana White was adamant about continuing operations amid the crisis, and being the first sport back appears to have paid off for the company.
In March 2019, ESPN+ became the exclusive provider for UFC pay-per-views in the U.S. Under the new model, actual buyrates aren't as high as when pay-per-views were available for purchase via cable, but ESPN pays the promotion a "license fee" to sell the events. A monthly subscription to ESPN+ costs $4.99.
Under the traditional system, the UFC's pay-per-view record was a reported 2.4 million buys for Khabib Nurmagomedov versus Conor McGregor at UFC 229 in October 2018. McGregor's return against Donald Cerrone this past January became the first ESPN+ pay-per-view to surpass 1 million buys.