FOX have called a press conference for today in which they are expected to be joined by Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta, Georges St.Pierre, Rashad Evans and Frankie Edgar to announce that they have signed a new multi-year television deal.
Below you’ll find our keynotes from the presser.
– Press conference starts with a slick video introduction introducing the UFC as the newest addition to their broadcasting roster. “Two elite organizations come together to create a future that cannot be denied,” says the voiceover.
Then in a surprise move a suited up Joe Rogan appears to introduce the press conference / Q&A session and the various panelists which includes various FOX execs alongside Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta.
– “There’s no yesterday in TV, it’s always about the next big thing, and that’s why we’re here today,” says FOX Sports David Hill. He says it’s amazing how Zuffa have taken MMA from a niche sport to a mainstream one – something he didn’t believe would be possible when he first spoke to them 10 years ago.
– “This is going to get bigger and bigger and bigger. This is just the beginning,” says Hill.
– Fox’s Eric Shanks reveals more details on the deal:
four massive fights a year on FOX,
32 live fights on FX
two runs of TUF each year (“We will literally own Friday night’s)
additional programming on Fuel (including pre and post-fight coverage).
– Dana White says that The Ultimate Fighter will air LIVE on FX.
– Dana enthuses that this TV deal with FOX is the pinnacle for him in terms of North America and is what he’s always wanted. “This partnership is going to be amazing and take us to the next level.”
– Lorenzo Fertitta points out that the UFC has been in business with FOX for some time with programming in other regions like Australia and Latin America so this is just the icing on the cake, but is going to take both the UFC and the sport to the next level.
Fertitta says he’s particularly delighted to be on FX who he sings the praises of for their edgy drama series.
– FOX’s Randy Freer believes this deal puts the network on a level playing field with the other major networks in terms of sports programming.
– Another slick video presentation showing the new changes coming to ‘The Ultimate Fighter’. Fans will now be able to vote on who fights who throughout the series. The initial preliminary fights plus each weekly episodes fights will air live.
– David Hill admits to reservations years ago but now describes MMA as three-dimensional compared to boxing being one dimensional. He points to The Ultimate Fighter show as changing his mind on the sport.
– “This is where I always wanted to be, this is what I always wanted,” Dana White says. Incidentally the question was asked by Josh Gross – one of White’s most hated reporters. This might be the first time they’ve spoken in years since Gross was banned from the UFC.
– The first UFC fight on FOX will be on Saturday November 12th in Anaheim. Dana White won’t be drawn on who will star on the card however.
– White says the FOX deal is for 7 years.
– Fuel will have “A significant amount of UFC Programming” including prelims shows and series like ‘Unleashed.’ White says they’ll try to build Fuel like they did with Spike TV.
– Fertitta states he’d like to have FOX on-board in more countries when the opportunity arises.
– FOX say they wouldn’t have got into this deal if they were concerned about advertisers having reservations about the sport.
Fertitta points out that they’ve broke through many of the advertising barriers they’ve had in the past and that the UFC is the perfect way to target young males.
– Dana says the production will run as it always had in the past and FOX will deal with the pre and post shows. Fertitta adds that they will collaborate with FOX’s staff though.
– FX will get six ‘UFC Fight Night’ events.
– Lorenzo says they will “deliver big fights that matter and mean something” when they are on FOX though they won’t guarantee they’ll always be championship fights.
*Note…Loretta Hunt asked the last question. Along with Josh Gross she is another reporter who hasn’t been allowed anywhere near the UFC in the past few years due to past fallings out with Dana White. Perhaps FOX have been able to put an end to these disputes?
– Fertitta notes that a recent deal with ‘FOX Latin America’ should speed up their move into the Mexican market for live events.
– Feritta admits that they did look into putting together their own UFC Channel, but that the deal with FOX made the most sense. “What we do best is promote great fights.”
– FOX refuse to discuss how much they pay for licensing per year for UFC’s programming.
– David Hill points to the UFC’s ability to attract the young male demographic as being a major reason for their believing that this is a major deal for FOX.
– Dana White says the FOX deal won’t help their case to legalize the sport in New York as that is down to a union issue that’s already been well documented.
– FOX will put “everything at their disposal to make this as big as possible” but so far they have now set performance targets in relation to audience figures.
– Dana reveals that they will be looking to revamp their UFC events with new graphics, etc (the Gladiator opening will be ditched) to reflect the fact that they are making a fresh start with their deal on FOX.
– FOX says there’s an 80% overlap between the UFC and people who watch FX.
And that’s concludes the press conference.