20 August 2011

UFC Made a Brilliant Move in Signing With Fox Sports

The big news this week in sports media and a historic move not just for UFC but for Mixed Martial Arts as a whole was the announcement that the Ultimate Fighting Championships, the top brand in MMA, signed a long-term deal with Fox Sports. Here's my take on the deal and how everyone benefits from this new television deal.
UFC was on Spike for a several years as well as on Versus but as the deals with those networks had ended, UFC was looking for a new partner after ratings both for fights as well as for the reality series "The Ultimate Fighter" had stagnated. Plus UFC was eager to start getting fights on network television, which other series had but none with a lot of success.
Enter Fox. The Fox deal benefits the UFC in many ways. Now the UFC has a network broadcasting presence as four events a year will air on Fox. Also, with a bunch of fights as well as The Ultimate Fighter moving to FX, UFC now has a greater reach than it did with Versus and Spike because FX has greater distribution than those networks (nearly fully distributed) as well as it as a whole has much higher ratings than either network the UFC was with before. And the UFC will load FX with plenty of programming with TUF followed by live fights as well as a magazine-style show.
The UFC is also a great fit demographics wise for both networks. Both Fox and FX have targeted the coveted 18-49 market with edgy programming, particularly on FX where all original programming is TV-MA. The UFC brings in very high ratings in the male 18-34, which is very attractive to advertisers.
The UFC has long been the dominant player in Mixed Martial Arts but now has a chance to grow its reach into the mainstream even more than it already was. And they could not have done a better job than what they got with Fox right now.

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