It looks like the UFC on network TV is finally a reality. According to a report from Sports Business Daily, the UFC and Fox have agreed on a deal that would bring as many as four events to the network each year. A recent deal with Fox Sports Latin America appears to have been proper foreshadowing.
Fox refused to comment to Sports Business Daily, but several of their sources revealed the following details:
- As many as four events per year on Fox
- A seven- or eight-year deal with bidding having reached somewhere around $90M/year
- Weekly programming on Spike and Versus moving to FX
- Some UFC content will end up on Fuel, though the cable network will not be rebranded
The SBD article also reveals details about negotiations with Comcast/NBC and Spike TV. Spike ultimately passed on a new deal, citing stoppage in growth. SBD notes that programs like "Unleashed," "Knockouts," and "Countdown" average 1 million viewers in 2005, with that number falling under 500k this year.
If this is the real deal, it's big news for MMA and the UFC.
[Update 1:38 p.m. ET] A UFC official declined to comment on the situation to Bloody Elbow.
[Update 2:20 p.m. ET] An anonymous Fox source confirms the deal to Heavy.com.
[Update 3:43 p.m. ET] John Ourand, author of the SBD article, tweets, "Fox will have a 1pm press conference Thurs with Hill, Freer, Shanks, Landgraf for 'one of the biggest announcements in Fox Sports history.'" (HT: Bloody Elbow reader IRodC)