UFC Sign Multi-Year Broadcast Deal with FOX, 7/8 Years Worth $90 Million a Year

Ultimate Fighting Championship is continuing its push into the mainstream sporting world, as the mixed-martial-arts promotion has reached a multi-year broadcast deal with Fox, according to a published report Tuesday.

Sports Business Journal (SBJ) reports that UFC and Fox have agreed on a contract believed to be for seven or eight years, and worth as much as $90 million per year. According to the report, as many as four UFC events will air on Fox each year, marking the first time UFC will be broadcast on one of the four major American networks.

UFC’s contract with Spike TV, its home to such programming as The Ultimate Fighter reality-TV show and dozens of live events since 2005, along with its deal with Versus network expires at the end of the year. UFC president Dana White has said whenever the subject of a TV deal was brought up in recent months that the company “is talking to everybody.” According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, that included potentially buying a controlling interest in NBC Universal’s G4 channel and rebranding it.

White on Tuesday in Houston, where he was promoting the upcoming UFC 136, would not confirm or deny the report but did he say he thinks “it’s time” for the company to make the leap to broadcast TV.

“I think we do fit into the sports world with the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA. I’ve always said that what would take it to the next level is a broadcast deal, being on one of the major networks. But to do that, you have to have the right deal,” he said.

“There’s been other organizations that have popped up and jumped on the first network deal they could get, but if the deal doesn’t make sense, you’re going to go out of business real quick.”

White stressed that UFC will continue to look at the big picture and think long term.

“We got into this because we love the sport. We’re passionate about it, and what we want to do is build a sport,” he said.

“For me, building a sport is where everybody all over the world plays by the same rules. That’s our goal, that’s what we’re working on. And when the right deal comes, we’ll take it.”

SBJ reports that the Fox deal will include most of the programming that currently airs on Viacom-owned Spike TV and Versus network being moved to FX beginning in January. In addition, other UFC programming will air on Fox-owned Fuel. According to the report, “Fox was attracted to UFC programming, which has produced some of the highest viewership figures – and most attractive demos – on Versus and Spike TV.”

John Ourand of SBJ wrote on Twitter that Fox is planning a press conference Thursday for “one of the biggest announcements in Fox Sports history.”

SBJ reports that Spike TV “ultimately passed over concern that its UFC shoulder programming stopped growing. Shows like ‘Unleashed,’ ‘Knockouts’ and ‘Countdown’ averaged one million viewers in (2005). This year, they are averaging 492,000.” SBJ also reported that Spike has the rights to UFC’s library programming through 2012, including old fights and shoulder programming such as ‘UFC Unleashed.’

It is expected that Spike TV will now pursue a deal with Bellator Fighting Championships. The promotion currently airs on MTV2 in the United States and on The Score in Canada.

About William Smith

After watching the first Ultimate Fighting Championship I became instantly hooked. I've been a huge fan of the sport of MMA ever since. Haven't missed a UFC event & thanks to fight pass I've witnessed some of the all time greatest fighter & athletes the sport through Pride, Strikeforce, WEC, Glory, Pacrase, EliteXC.............. I resently joined MMA-paradise.com & will use this site to continue to bring the latest news from the world of MMA to all our loyal followers.