The UFC reportedly took another major step on August 16, signing a multiyear broadcast deal with FOX. Even though smaller MMA shows have been on network TV slots in the past, it will be the UFC’s first opportunity to work with a major broadcast company.
The meat and potatoes of the deal are yet to be disclosed, but the deal is expected to last as long as seven years. The transition from the UFC’s current home Spike TV/Versus is expected to begin in January 2012, with all the promotion’s free programming moving over to FOX.
As a long-time UFC fan, my feelings on the news are rather ambivalent. On the business side, the UFC will have the opportunity to reach a larger audience on FOX. The UFC has the potential to be as popular as the NBA or NFL, and it would be hard to reach that goal with Spike TV’s limited demographic.
Still, it saddens me that shows like the “Ultimate Fighter” reality TV series which I have faithfully watched since season one, might be restructured by producers in the UFC’s new home.
The one thing that does put me at ease about the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s TV deal with FOX is the fact UFC president Dana White’s larger than life ego will ensure the product doesn’t undergo too many significant changes. The chances of UFC broadcast team members like Joe Rogan or Bruce Buffer being pushed out by FOX staffers will be very low.
If the deal works out, MMA fans can definitely expect the UFC to put on better shows than their predecessors have done in the past. With a roster that includes many of the best MMA fighters in the world, the UFC deal with FOX should be a complete success for all involved.