UFC lands new U.K. 'free-to-air' TV deal

USA TODAY Sports

The UFC has a new deal to air on a "free-to-air" station in the United Kingdom, resolving a long-term issue in the international market expansion.

The UFC's international expansion is an effort that holds complexities on a number of levels. They've addressed some, such as the difficulties in broadcasting fights for fans in the U.S. while also holding them at reasonable local times, through the creation of Fight Pass.

They've now addressed another long-running concern in the U.K through a new TV deal, discussed by Dave Meltzer at MMA Fighting:

That's why UFC's new television deal in the market is so significant. Besides airing on BT Sports, the home of all UFC live events, Saturday's show will air from 9-11 p.m. on Ch. 5, one of the five major free-to-air stations in the country. It would be equivalent in some ways to the FOX deal in the U.S. Ch. 5 is the equivalent of a network station in the U.S., although it is No. 5 in the marketplace.

That means, instead of an audience measured in tens of thousands, there could be a million or more viewers, the most any UFC event in history has ever garnered in that part of the world. The station averages 1 million viewers in that time slot and there have been boxing matches with local heavyweight Tyson Fury that have doubled that number.

Saturday's show kicks off a new deal with the station that will air six shows in prime time in 2014, all live.

Now, if only there were enough major main events to help grow the international markets even more.

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