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Report: UFC Inks Multi-Year Broadcast Deal With FOX

Marge Simpson MMA UFC
(Sorry, Marge. Your kind has no place hereProps: Fox)

Although reports like this are usually followed by UFC president Dana White calling “bullshit,” SportsBusinessDaily is breaking a very interesting bit of news:

In what would represent a major push into the mainstream for the UFC, Fox has agreed to a deal that will see the broadcast channel air as many as four MMA events per year, according to several sources. The multiyear deal would mark the first time the UFC will have consistent airtime on a broadcast network.

Fox execs refused to comment on the deal, but sources with knowledge of the negotiations said bidding had gone as high as $90M per year. The Fox deal is believed to be for seven or eight years. As part of the deal, most of the weekly programming that UFC has on Versus and Spike TV will move to FX starting in January. That includes several fight cards, plus shows like the reality series “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Fox-owned Fuel also will wind up with some UFC content. But rumors that Fox will rebrand Fuel as a UFC channel are not true, sources said. Fox was attracted to UFC programming, which has produced some of the highest viewership figures ­— and most attractive demos —­ on Versus and Spike TV…Both the Versus and Spike TV deals with UFC expire at the end of the year.

The report went on to say that the UFC had previously been negotiating with Comcast/NBC for a broadcast deal that would have placed UFC events on NBC and Versus and transformed G4 into the UFC’s official cable channel, but those talks recently broke down.

Also, negotiations with Spike TV are officially kaput. Spike ultimately walked away amid concerns that ratings for its UFC programming were on the decline. (“Shows like ‘Unleashed,’ ‘Knockouts’ and ‘Countdown’ averaged 1 million viewers in ’05. This year, they are averaging 492,000.”) Still, Spike holds the rights to UFC library programming through 2012, and may continue to air content like their “UFC Unleashed” fight-compilation show.

The deal with Fox would be a great leap forward for the UFC, whose two-pronged cable deal with Spike and Versus wasn’t really benefiting any of the parties involved. Plus, The Ultimate Fighter as a lead-in to Rescue Me just sounds badass. We’ll update you when we know more…

Cagepotato Comments

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XENOPHON- August 16, 2011 at 9:48 pm
I've waited all day to read your snipe, your at least two moves behind me bro. Go back a re-read from a week ago, I called it, and said...there is some big news that's going to happen soon.
Here's the even bigger question not one of you brilliant cast and crew had once thought about asking. This questions is for the boyz sitting at Break Media on Wilshire Blvd., so be sure to pass it forward.
(I used to have an office in mid-Wilshire, corner of Wilshire and Normandie. That Jewish guy Goldstein will get a kick out of this, my office was on the 13th floor, there was even a button on the elevator marked as such.)
So here it is, here is my question: What the fuck are you going to do with Cage Potato?
UFC is now locked into what appears or is believed to be for seven or eight years. This leaves a major fucking void to be filled.
Where there is a void, there is always opportunity, and in this case it's big enough to drive a Mack truck into.
Why the fuck don't you get that Stanford educated CEO of yours to get his finger out of his butt, put it in gear, and put his high dollar networking ass to task.
Tell Keith Richman there is a whole other company named Viacom who will need its own dedicated MMA "platinum" portal. And if you think I'm fucked up, you tell me one other portal that is better than Cage Potato and not in bed with those cock suckers from Stations Casinos Inc.
I tried dropping this dime discreetly a nearly two weeks ago, and only the goofballs here took the bait. Not one of you editors seized on what was bound to take place. Today Ben Goldstein, Mike Russell, and Doug Richardson you earn a "D-".
(tomorrows a new day)
Instead of one of the many tier II fluffers and pumpers for the UFC, there is a brave new world for you editors, and its ripe for the picking.
I'm going to my new bottle of New Zealand's finest, kick my feet up, and wait for the chorus to start chiming-in. GRIN
Todd M- August 16, 2011 at 9:03 pm
wait people still watch Sons of Anarchy, shits like Bakersfield 90210
TIME_TRAVELER_FROM_THE_FUTURE- August 16, 2011 at 6:12 pm
When i first read this i thought it was going to be on the broadcast network fox.

I can only imagine what shitstorm that would brew. There are a LOT of people who would be turned off by it, who don't even know it exists right now & it would all but guarantee their attention.

I know there's a saying that there's no such thing as bad publicity, but when you're a business that's trying to get legalized and regulated in many areas still, there is.

Spike & FX are about as close as they should get to prime-time imo. Plus networks aren't exactly clamoring for it. The Strikeforce numbers on cbs were pretty crappy with fox & nbc getting over quadruple the viewers each for the same time slots.
j-k-martin- August 16, 2011 at 5:41 pm
Good, another step towards the mainstream for mma.
rampageisgod- August 16, 2011 at 3:58 pm
Get the UFC on FX and you'll have Sons of Anarchy plus that. I may never change the channel.
El Guapo- August 16, 2011 at 2:13 pm
Yeah, where is Fred anyway? Kind of odd..
Chri534.- August 16, 2011 at 1:54 pm
This is Rescue Me's final season.
RwilsonR- August 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm
It's okay, El Guapo. I understand.
Though I'm a little concerned Fried Taco didn't get in before either of us. He's usually first on every article, like he has CP on a 30 refresh. But not today. Somebody might want to check on him... make sure he's okay.
Horsepower- August 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm
Sounds like a great move to me, cant wait. I liked UFC on Spike, but Versus just sucked and id certainly prefer to watch it anywhere else.
O Chan- August 16, 2011 at 1:06 pm

First up, FX is a fully distributed network. In other words, it's in the same number of homes as ESPN.

Second, in addition to FX's wide distribution, it is considered a top 5 network and can compete with ESPN's numbers.

Third, if ESPN would be in on the deal, there's no way it would be on ESPN or ESPN2, most likely get thrown on ESPN Classics. Simply put, with coverage of the NBA, MLB, and Division 1 college sports, there simply be no way they would sacrifice those impressions for a very niche sport.

Fourth, ABC and ESPN are all under the Disney branch which still strives to be a "family friendly" brand. You ever notice how MMA Live is on at 2AM during the week? There's a reason for that, it's essentially being buried due to its content.

TUF on FX is actually a step in the right direction. Spike essentially became the UFC network, a characteristic the network was looking to distance themselves from in order to have their own network brand and identity. Since FX is already a well established brand, bringing TUF and UFC will only help expand MMA's audience. If you also consider the number of other networks (FSN, FUEL, SPEED, etc.) there is a greater opportunity of cross promotion with these other News Corps Networks that will (once again) benefit UFC's brand.
KINGMADE- August 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm
Fuck FX... put everything on fox so it is in everyones home. why limit the one thing that launched the UFC into a whole new era by limiting how many homes the ultimate fighter will be viewed in. ABC missed out. TUF on ESPN would have brought in huge numbers vs what FX can do. Atleast some live fights will be aired on FOX but still TUF on fx is not a step in the right direction.
Vunter Slaush- August 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm
Hold on fellas;_ylt=AiLMh8q7Uy.A4icay43U1RA9Eo14?urn=mma-wp5963
El Guapo- August 16, 2011 at 11:35 am
I love to hate dooshy Dana's Mini Me looking ass as much as the next guy(if not more), but I gotta give credit where credit is due. Great move by the UFC.
El Guapo- August 16, 2011 at 11:27 am
Effin Wilson, effin beat me to it. EFF!
O Chan- August 16, 2011 at 11:19 am
Rescue me is over after this season. Better off with Sons of Anarchy. Just sayin'...
RwilsonR- August 16, 2011 at 11:17 am
In before this is spun into a bad thing for MMA by the anti-Zuffa crowd.
XENO, have at it.
Fierce Brosnan- August 16, 2011 at 11:08 am
I would lol if this marks the end of Spike..