UFC, FOX come to agreement on long-term TV deal (Update)Posted on August 16, 2011, 12:59 PM by DougMead
For the past seven years, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has called Spike TV its home for cable programming. However, according to a recent report, that relationship will end, starting in 2012.
Sports Business Daily reported on Tuesday that the UFC and FOX Sports have come to an agreement that will move all UFC programming to FOX’s Fuel and FX affiliates starting next year, for a period of seven or eight years.
The agreement calls for at least four major UFC to be broadcast per year, as well as the current programming featured on Spike TV and Versus.
It’s a huge win for UFC, which has long had a goal of acquiring a broadcast TV deal in order to continue its growth.
Spike TV had concerns over the relatively flat ratings recently for taped UFC shows such as Unleashed, Knockouts and Countdown.
However, UFC president Dana White considers broadcast TV to be a great vehicle to continue promoting his brand and for advertisement and marketing of the core pay-per-view entertainment, which is the primary revenue stream for UFC.
"We're never going to be in a situation where we're making money on those networks," White said earlier this year. "We'll have to come out in a situation where we break even. That works."
For years, many states in the US would not sanction the UFC, citing its danger factor. However, with many holdout states now softening their stance and with a more mainstream audience, the switch to FOX makes great sense for a sport continuing to gain in overall popularity.
Speaking at a special UFC 136 pre-fight press conference held in Texas today, UFC President Dana White would neither confirm nor deny earlier reports from Sports Business Journal that the promotion had reached an agreement with the FOX network that would bring a minimum of four live events to the broadcast powerhouse annually.
"Everyone is asking me to comment on the Sports Business Journal article. Well, there's a reason I haven't, just like I didn't comment on the Wall Street Journal article on us buying G4," said White (via MMAMania.com).
White went on to explain that, unlike other organizations, the UFC will not jump on the first major network offer that comes their way. Instead, he stated, the deal has to both make business sense and help further the growth of MMA as a sport.
While Heavy.com has reportedly confirmed the agreement, citing sources close to the FOX network, the UFC appears to be remaining tight-lipped on any details.
Keep it locked on LowKick.com for more details as they become available.
Photo: Francis Specker