Spike TV are up to their old tricks again after confirming that they intend to counter-program January 28th’s live ‘UFC On FOX 2’ broadcast with footage from past UFC events featuring the stars of the show.
The network still has the rights to broadcast archived UFC footage right the way through 2012 and they are taking full advantage of that by planning a ‘UFC Unleashed: Evans Vs Davis’ special from 4pm – 10pm on the 28th with replays of both the ‘UFC On FOX 2’ headliners past fights.
Spike TV employed a similar strategy for the ‘UFC On FOX 1’ broadcast in November with a ‘UFC Unleashed: Velasquez Vs Dos Santos’ special which drew an average of 719,000 viewers and peaked at over 900,000.
It’s a somewhat underhand tactic, looking to draw in casual fans who may not realise that the real live action is actually happening over on FOX, but in a recent interview with Sherdog.com Spike TV President Kevin Kay said that it’s the smart thing to do from their perspective.
“I think now we have to use the library the way that we have to use the library and be smart about it. It’s not malicious; it’s just business. I think, just in the same way that Dana was always trying to figure out how to use Spike to build his business, we have to use the library to do it.”
Kay also pointed out that the UFC can offer to buy back the library at any time, but he acknowledges that is unlikely to happen. Though he doesn’t say so himself the reason is that would bring to an end an exclusivity deal Spike had with the UFC and would allow them to then bring rival promotion Bellator Fighting Championships in from MTV2 to replace the UFC’s programming.
Overall it’s an annoyance for the UFC, but as was shown last month it didn’t make a big dent in the overall viewing figures they enjoyed on FOX, drawing an average of 5.7 million viewers to their live Velasquez Vs Dos Santos show, peaking at 8.8 million during the actual fight itself.