It may have been a speculative remark fueled by an interview Dana White did with Broadcasting Cable this week in which the UFC president intimated that his promotion was considering starting its own television network, but to many MMA news sites, an eight-second conversation the hosts of ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption show had on the subject yesterday was enough to prompt speculation that this is the major announcement that will be made during today’s media conference call.
Here’s what White told BC’s Ben Grossman:
"A lot of people don’t realize we are in a half a billion homes around the world. You know all the things we’ve been through in the United States, but this sport travels well. Cricket will never be big here and the NFL will never be big around the world. But we are all human beings and fighting is in our DNA. We get it and we like it. So we are working on a couple moves now and should be in a billion homes around the world in the next couple months. Sports Business Journal just came out with a survey asking big names in the industry which sport could start its own network and 4 out of 5 said us. They are right. I agree. That will happen within the next couple years.You are starting to see now ESPN is starting to cover us more. I think this is one of those things ESPN will probably kick themselves in 10 years saying, ‘We could have fucking had that.’"
It is possible that if it is true that ESPN got wind of the news, considering they have a deal to broadcast UFC events and to produce satellite pre and post-event MMA Live programs, but it’s more likely that PTI is just throwing the scenario out there to create dialogue on the possibility.
“UFC is planning to start it’s own TV network,” the co-host of the rapid-fire debate show, Michael Wilbon ambiguously stated. "Is that a good idea?"
“I’ve got 75,000 networks on my cable system," his co-host, Tony Kornheiser replied, nonplussed by the prospect.
Soon after the program aired, MMA messageboards and news sites lit up with posts about how ESPN spoiled the UFC’s announcement, but considering the fact that White’s remarks could also mean that his organization has finally sealed a long-coveted deal with a cable network such as NBC, ABC or even Strikeforce’s possibly-former broadcast partner, CBS, there may be no substance to the speculative story.
If you think about the huge undertaking that starting a channel from scratch is and the fact that the UFC is tied into contracts with Spike TV and Versus to broadcast events for at least the next two years, it isn’t likely to happen any time soon.
We’ll soon have the answer.
The press conference is set for 1:00 pm ET today and we will be on the call to get the Potato Nation the 411 on the announcement ASAP.