(Video courtesy of YouTube/StudioMMA)
An interesting quote from the interview above by our friends at StudioMMA got me thinking today whether or not the landmark TV deal the UFC struck with Fox is helping or hindering Zuffa’s bottom line.
According to UFC president Dana White, every day he deals with fans who say they had no idea that the UFC is broadcasting events on Fox and it’s affiliates like FX and Fuel TV.
“Our deal with Fox is seven years. Over the next two years we’re working our asses off to get this Fox deal dialed in… Fuel, FX and big Fox — as far as the production goes, as far as the type of programming we’re going to continue to put together, fine-tuning the Ultimate Fighter that’s live and reaching out and letting not only the hardcore fans, the sometimes fans and people who aren’t yet fans know that we’re on Fox. That’s a bigger job than people could imagine. How many people that I still talk to on Twitter that have no idea we are on FOX, FX or FUEL; oh, it’s crazy man. It’s crazy. So that’s what we’re going to be doing in the next two years.”
Add to the fact that FX and Fuel aren’t available in Canada (unless you count FX Canada, which shows past seasons of its popular original shows making it about as appealing as a Netflix membership), the only affiliate in the country that is licensed to air UFC events (Sportsnet) doesn’t broadcast The Ultimate Fighter Live! live. Instead, it’s aired two hours after FX shows it.
Early ratings numbers for the show illustrate a definite decline in viewership from the SPIKE TV-helmed shows, but that’s because SPIKE is available in most cable and satellite packages in North America.
White expressed his disappointment in the turn in viewership in a recent interview with MMAJunkie, but admitted that he expected some transitional speed bumps when he signed the deal with Fox. He also said that Zuffa and it’s Fox cohorts are optimistic that things will turn around.
“There’s so many things that are involved in those numbers,” White said. “I didn’t expect to jump on FX and do 3.5 million viewers right out of the gate. But here’s the thing: The format is awesome. It’s perfect. We’ve got a great season, and we’re going to build this thing. Believe me, the way that FX deals with their programming and how they handle it, they’re so analytical. These guys are like fucking rocket scientists how they break this stuff down and look at it. Trust me, everything is positive over there.”
What are your thoughts on the good, the bad and the ugly of the first three months of the Fox era of the UFC?