Some decent analysis promoted from the diaries. Kid Nate
Adam Swift over at mmapayout.com has received info that the proposed deal for a UFC card for the Tiffany Network may be in peril:...based on conversations between MMAPayout.com and multiple sources within the industry, there seems to be a growing belief that the UFC-CBS deal has stalled or fallen apart altogether. At the very least there seems to be an emerging consensus that the deal won't be in place in time for UFC 81 as has been rumored.
Swift didn't really elaborate on the possible roadblocks for the transaction but based on his past history with the HBO negotiations, one has to think that Dana has trouble striking a deal that is mutually beneficial to both parties. The party line from most blogs was that the deal with HBO fell apart over who would control production of the events, but the real reason it fell apart was because it didn't make financial sense for HBO. HBO had little to gain from putting on the HBO in terms of it adding to their bottom line. HBO has reached a point of almost saturation as far as it's subscriber base, so they wouldn't see enough of an increase in subscriber base to offset the cost of the UFC Programming it would pay for. In addition, HBO has no piece of the PPV action like they do with their boxing fare. Putting on and paying the production fees for boxing cards on HBO leads to an eventual pay off like the recent Mayweather-Hatton PPV that did 850k buys on HBO's pay per view arm HBO PPV. There was no such pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for HBO if they did have the UFC put on cards for the network.
They situation is probably much the same for having the UFC move their UFC 81 card from PPV to CBS. Taking UFC 81 off of PPV would probalby cost Zuffa somewhere in the neigborhood of $11 million in revenue from PPV (500k buys at $44.95 per). The rumors I have seen have stated that the UFC wants somewhere around $5 million for the move to CBS. That kinda fee is a non starter for CBS. From CBS's perspective, UFC is essentially another reality program and they usually pay peanuts for those. They can usually get some random reality concept for less than half a million per television hour, so they aren't gonna pay two to three times that for a program that would be basically a one-off that will not be seen again once the writer's strike ends. CBS also may not be willing to sink that much money into a program if they are unsure how the ad market will be during the extended stretch of time that the writers are on strike. CBS may want to make a deal with the UFC, but not at the expense of their bottom line.
If Dana is intent on making this deal he is going to have to look at such a deal as being a loss leader, generating a higher mainstream profile and increased exposure to an older demographic with the trade-off being the PPV $$$ that are so highly coveted. Another possible idea would be to set up a separate card for CBS, a Fight Night on steroids if you will that, would be used to hype the next month's PPV.