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Is the UFC’s Fox Deal Hurting Business?


(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?

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Accountant with a passion for MMA- March 27, 2012 at 4:35 pm
We all know that Zuffa is not a publicly traded company. As such, you'll never know what their bottom line is because they will never divulge their financials. This was immediately apparent from the interview that ESPN did with Lorenzo Fertitta (I think Lorenzo wasn't being very honest about the percentange of their profits that they distribute to fighters). I wish I did Zuffa/UFC's taxes because then I would be privy to this information.
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rickards- March 26, 2012 at 10:37 pm
duh, advertise that you've moved to fox during your PPVs. "don't watch reruns on spike, watch it live on FOX" sheesh
dranokills- March 26, 2012 at 9:22 pm
I think the UFC is doing fantastic.
I would like to be in Dana's shoes.
that is job security right there, and a retirement plan like no other. As for "oh you got kids, and a wife, what do you do, how do you survive?" simple hes so rich he takes em with him. they stay in the biggest most expensive places , have the best service, best food, , butlers maids, even a nanny, or a tutor. Those kids have it made, the wife does nothing, shit shes got it made. travel the world on the UFC dime. I'd kill a mofucker for that life, sheeet!
Nut Puncher 9000- March 26, 2012 at 7:25 pm
You have to anticipate that any attempt at transitioning from the PPV business model will encounter hiccups. I am sure that the UFC took the potential risk of loss of PPV dollars during this transition into account before inking a seven year deal. In order to truly become a "mainstream" sports organization (aka - NFL/NBA/MLB) they cannot continue using the PPV model. Its just that simple.
Anhonestmoose- March 26, 2012 at 7:05 pm
I was a loyal viewer of TUF, but didn't follow it to FX. With it being on Fridays now I have other shows that conflict. I do watch the episodes online afterward, but that doesn't help the ratings.
Get Off Me- March 26, 2012 at 6:31 pm
Dana needs to work on the rules in the UFC if he wants growth...all major sports in their infancy(where the UFC is right now) tweaked rules in order to yield a better product. FOX or not, if the general audience cannot understand why fighters are winning a losing, they will be less likely to invest their time/money following the sport. Another issue Dana needs to work on is the on site presentation of the sport, there's way too many bodies around that Octagon(those who go to live shows know what I mean) and more than not, fans pay high prices to watch the big screen.
Mike Russell- March 26, 2012 at 5:04 pm
Is it worth the $30-40 extra per month for TUF?
agentsmith- March 26, 2012 at 7:45 pm
Well I wouldn't pay extra just for FX regardless, especially since they don't play new SOA episodes. But it's included on my cable package.
agentsmith- March 26, 2012 at 5:02 pm
FYI, FX Canada airs the new TUF Live, then Sportsnet airs it one hour later.
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