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The UFC Television Picture

No pun intended, but if you're really looking for some insight into how the UFC will use the medium of television in the coming months and years, MMA Payout's got a pretty stellar write-up. Notable quote:

However, there are risks to an exclusive partnership with the network. While the UFC enjoys the advantages of being Spike's number one property, the brand would rank significantly lower in the ESPN hierarchy. The NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR, College Football & Basketball, would all rank above the UFC in terms of network priorities. As a result there is a real possibility that the UFC could get lost in the shuffle.

On the other hand Spike is heavily invested in the UFC's success since the network's success is largely tied to the brand's success. Spike builds its television schedule around its UFC programming including extensive marketing blitzs for live events. When the UFC needs television time all it has to do is ask. UFC events on Spike are given the top priority while on ESPN at best they would receive equal billing with the week's biggest traditional sporting events.

While a deal with ESPN would bring tremendous mainstream exposure, a deal with HBO would bring prestige and legitimacy to the sport and the brand. HBO Sports is one of the most respected entities in the sports world, the gold standard as White has called it. The UFC on HBO would signal the sport's arrival and clearly establish the UFC as its premier brand. The price to pay for this legitimacy however appears to be relinquishing production control, something the UFC has been steadfastly unwilling to do.

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