It was a deal that changed the profile of the UFC, bringing MMA’s to organization to the major broadcast network in the United States. It has since led to UFC’s branding being touted during highly rated NFL broadcasts and big fights in front of larger audiences than pay-per-view broadcasts. The following is the original story, published on Aug. 16, 2011…
The UFC has a new television partner, and it’s a huge one, as SportsBusinessDaily reports that they have signed a deal with Fox that will bring up to four UFC events a year to network television.
According to the report, Fox has agreed to a deal in the range of seven or eight years, with bidding for UFC content going as high as $90 million per year. While the UFC will obviously continue on pay-per-view, this new deal will bring the world’s leading MMA organization to network television for the first time.
Additionally, SBD reports that most of the UFC’s weekly programming, including live events and The Ultimate Fighter, will move to cable channel FX, with Fox-owned Fuel also getting some UFC content. The report says that the UFC had also been negotiating with Comcast/NBC to bring the organization to NBC and Versus, as well as turning G4 into a “UFC network” of sorts. However, those negotiations reportedly broke down.
An official announcement will likely come in the next several weeks, and this deal would come into play beginning next year.
Penick’s Analysis: It seemed easy that the UFC’s purchase of Strikeforce would be the biggest story of 2011, and then the UFC just completely outdid themselves with this deal. The UFC has long sought a suitable network outlet, but had failed to come to suitable terms. Now it seems they’ve done just that, and bringing the UFC to Fox four times a year is unbelievably huge, and FX is an excellent home channel on cable for their content and demographic as well. With shows targeting the UFC’s audience in Louie, Wilfred, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and more, having live sporting content added will be big as well. This is just an absolutely huge move on the UFC’s part, and will help bring the exposure of the sport to a new level in 2012.
UPDATE: Heavy.com reports that it is, in fact, a done deal, citing a representative from Fox who wished to remain anonymous as the deal has not yet been announced by either party. This is a huge move for the UFC, and it’s a complete game-changer for the sport as a whole.