Official: Fox Strikes Multi-Year Pact With UFC
First match airs Nov. 12; 'Ultimate Fighter' moves to FX
By Tim Baysinger -- Broadcasting & Cable, 8/18/2011 1:12:58 PM
This marks the first time the MMA organization will have its events on broadcast television.
The distribution agreement will put four live events on Fox -- beginning in November -- and 32 live fights on FX. Fuel will handle much of the pre and post-event coverage. UFC will still air much of its signature events on Pay-per-view, but UFC Chairman/CEO Lorenzo Fertitta assured that the matches on Fox will stack up. "There may be championships on some of them," said Fertitta. "We're going to deliver big fights."
"We want to pull ratings, we want to pull numbers," added UFC President Dana White.
Fox's first event is scheduled for Nov. 12; the card is undecided at this time. White also commented that, with Nov. 12 being the same date as the anticipated Manny Pacquiao-Juan Marquez boxing match, UFC is not looking to upstage its rival. "In no way shape or form are we trying to go up against the Pacquiao fight," said White.
Additional programming on Fox's other networks will begin January 2012, which includes the reality series The Ultimate Fighter moving from Spike TV to FX next spring. The series will undergo a makeover, most notably switching to a live format. Season 14, slated to premiere in September, will still run on Spike.
"Our six-year partnership with the UFC has been incredibly beneficial in building both our brands, and we wish them all the best in the future," said the network in a statement.
FX President John Landgraf said the addition of UFC programming levels the playing field between his network and others, most notably TBS and TNT, which broadcast the MLB, NBA, and NCAA Men's Basketball. "We can now stand toe to toe with anybody in our set," said Landgraf.
It's been noted that a lot of advertisers have UFC on their "no fly list," but Fox Sports Chairman David Hill explained they already have a number of them lined up, including Dodge, Anheuser-Busch, Edge Shave Gel, and Harley-Davidson. "We would not have gone into this deal if we hadn't canvassed a large group of advertisers who are 100% behind it," said Hill.
Fox Sports execs were bullish on the reach that UFC has with the young male demographic. "UFC programming is the most efficient way to target young males," said Eric Shanks, president, Fox Sports.
"The key importance of this deal is what it will bring to the male 18-34 demo," said Hill.
"Television is all about the next big thing," said Hill, who commented that when he first met with the UFC heads, Fertitta said that "what boxing was to [past generations], is what UFC will be and is to the next subsequent generation."
"The Fox deal will take this thing to a whole new level," said White. "We're changing everything."
Mayday - 8/19/2011 4:08:02 PM EDT
Mayday - 8/19/2011 11:04:14 AM EDT
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