As the UFC continues to search for a solid long-term TV deal while dealing with an increasingly antagonistic relationship with Spike, it is Versus, the UFC's other home, that is undergoing a big change. The sports network, owned by NBC, is going to officially re-brand into NBC Sports. From AOL Sporting News:
Versus officially will turn into the NBC Sports Network on Jan. 2.
The name change, which has been rumored for much of the last year, is timed to coincide with NBC's broadcast of the NHL Winter Classic and the run-up to NBC's February telecast of Super Bowl XLVI.
"Our goal is for anyone who sees the name or logo of one of our assets to immediately connect with NBC Sports," said NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus. He will officially announce the name change today at the Television Critics Association tour in Beverly Hills, Calif.
The ratings for UFC events on Versus have not been spectacular, especially compared to Spike. Arguably the lowest moment in the Versus experiment came when the UFC on Versus 4 card lost in the ratings to a replay of an old Fight Night event on Spike.
Re-brands do occasionally come with a renewed push and it may be a benefit to the UFC, should the relationship still exist, if NBC is regularly pushing the station around the Super Bowl.
This is all a situation that Dana White spoke about right after the Comcast acquisition of NBC universal. Via Yahoo! Sports:
An interesting element to the addition of UFC on Versus is Comcast's recent purchase of NBC Universal, which still awaits governmental approval. The New York Times says that Comcast will likely rebrand Versus as something akin to NBC Sports Cable in direct competition to ESPN.
It's too soon for any definitive statements in that regard, but it is an attractive option for the UFC if it comes to fruition.
"You never know," White responded when asked by MMAWeekly.com about the impact Comcast's NBC purchase could have on his company.
"It's obviously very, very interesting and Comcast and Versus have been great partners for us. They've got some interesting things going on."
This doesn't really make it any more likely that the UFC ends up on NBC at any point in the future. But it shows that things are changing at the one certain home of UFC broadcasts.