We’ve reported previously about an anticipated change over at FOX which will see Fuel TV converted to FOX Sports 2 at some stage this year, and now we have a date for it.
While it’s still to be officially announced the Sports Business Journal (subscription only) reports that the move is transition is expected to take place in August, while the Speed channel will become FOX Sports 1.
A further note of interest is that it’s being reported that a focus on sports programming on these channels means that FX will no longer be airing sports programming.
These changes would appear to impact the UFC in a number of ways.
Firstly, it would appear to spell an end to the ‘UFC On FX’ shows which hopefully would then move over to FOX Sports 1 (formerly ‘Speed’). That channel currently has a reach of 81 million homes, slightly down from the 98 million or so that have access to FX. I’d be hesitant to make a firm prediction on whether this will prove to be a good move or not as things stand.
It’s up for debate what would happen with ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ series though. While it could be filed under sports programming it’s also a reality-TV show so I think there’s a chance it could remain on the FX schedule, particularly if it does well in the ratings for the forthcoming 17th season. I hope it does stay there as it helps the UFC continue to reach a different audience than they would on a dedicated sports channel.
One aspect that certainly seems positive is the rebranding of Fuel TV to FOX Sports 2 which may become the new home for the ‘UFC On Fuel TV’ live events and certainly the likes of ‘UFC Tonight’. With the FOX brand behind it this should lead to both increased ratings and a broader reach with Fuel currently still trailing behind a lot of other channels due to only being available in around 37 million homes.
Perhaps the only downside there is that on Fuel TV the UFC have pretty much had the run of the ship resulting in a huge amount of programming dominating the channel over the past year, and that may not be the case once this restructuring takes place.
Of course this is all just guess work at this stage so hopefully both FOX and the UFC will start speaking publicly about how these changes are going to affect their MMA programming sooner rather than later.