While it’s not been officially announced yet the Sports Business Journal are reporting that Fuel TV is set to be rebranded as Fox Sports 2 next year.
It’s also expected that another FOX owned channel Speed TV will become Fox Sports 1. Expect the news to be officially unveiled early next year with the switchover taking place in August.
Over the past year the UFC has pretty much single-handedly delivered record ratings for the station with a mixture of live ‘UFC On Fuel TV’ events along with other original programming such as the weekly ‘UFC Tonight’ and ‘Ultimate Insider’ shows, accounting for a large percentage of the channel’s overall output.
However, it’s been a slow process with the channel only being available in less than 40 million homes (compared to the likes of FX which is available in almost 100 million) and so they’ve very rarely been able to break out of the 100-200,000 viewer range even for their highest profile programming.
If all goes according to plan the rebranding should have a positive impact on both viewership and overall reach though with anything carrying the FOX name sure to grab people’s attention.
This appears to be FOX’s attempt to go up against ESPN, so it’s also likely to be backed by a significant promotional push and improved programming as they look to hit the ground running and make an immediate impact.
It’ll be interesting to see how this affects the UFC’s other programming on the likes of FX and FOX though. I would assume that the ‘UFC On FOX’ shows would remain where they are, and probably TUF would continue on FX if it performs well in it’s new timeslot in January, but I wonder whether they’d still continue with the ‘UFC On FX’ events or look to merge them into the FOX Sports coverage.
It’ll be very interesting to see how this all goes, but for now it looks like being good news for the UFC.