Prior to UFC 121 in Anaheim, California the subject of a network television deal once again cropped up, and according to Dana White big plans are afoot for the ambitious promotion.
Speaking to Broadcasting & Cable the UFC president agreed that the UFC will be on network television in 2011.
“Yes, we will,” White said. “We are working on some things right now. I just can’t talk about it at all because we are right in the middle of it.”
The interviewer then reeled off a list of likely landing spots for the UFC – Fox late on Saturday nights, the possibility of something emerging from a Comcast – NBC merger. White wouldn’t be drawn on exactly who he was speaking to, but it’s safe to assume the companies suggested are in the right ballpark.
“Everything you’re saying makes sense. Fox on Saturday nights, Comcast merging with NBC, I am sorry I can’t get into it.”
Two others that appear to be out of the running are ESPN – “I think this is one of those things ESPN will probably kick themselves in 10 years saying, “We could have f*cking had that,” and HBO – “HBO is the kings of boxing. But it never changed. If you watch an HBO boxing event from 1975, what’s different from now? HD. Even the announcers are the same.”
Moving beyond that B&C then questioned White on the possibility of the UFC having it’s own network, and it appears that this is indeed another likely avenue that they are intent on pursuing.
“Sports Business Journal just came out with a survey asking big names in the industry which sport could start its own network and 4 out of 5 said us. They are right. I agree. That will happen within the next couple years.”
So it appears that there are interesting times ahead for the company in the U.S market. It should however be stressed that White has been convinced before that a TV deal was going to be done in the past only for it to fall through so it’s worth taking the above quotes as an indication of the UFC’s current ambition and broad gameplan rather than a statement of fact.
It should be noted that the UFC’s current deal with Spike TV ends next year though so in all likelihood if there’s going to be some movement then this would be the time to do it.