A new report from the Wall Street Journal suggests that the UFC could be considering the purchase TV channel G4.
The New York Times later confirmed the story, indicating that a source told them that the UFC were looking to buy a stake in the Comcast owned network.
The UFC’s current television deal with Spike TV ends this year, and Dana White recently stated that they were talking to all the major networks as they look to establish where the promotion will make it’s home in the coming years.
G4 TV is a cable and satellite network primarily aimed at a young adult audience, which fits in with the UFC’s own demographics. G4 originally started out focusing on video gaming, but while that is still a major focus of the station it has now rebranded itself as a ‘lifestyle’ channel and branched out to include other shows including ‘Cops’, ‘Cheaters’ and ‘Ninja Warriors’.
It’s been known for some time that the station has been struggling and the UFC may see this as an opportunity to swoop in and transform the channel in their own image. In many respects G4 is similar to the UFC’s current home of Spike TV, and therefore if this move takes place it’s an indication that they want to take greater control over their product.
A few recent examples would indicate why that could be beneficial. For instance, Spike TV decided to broadcast the most recent series of The Ultimate Fighter at a later time than normal. Some have indicated that may have had some impact on the sub-par ratings it produced over the course of the season, and Dana White admitted he wasn’t happy with the decision.
Even today the UFC’s Marshall Zelaznik revealed that Spike TV execs decision to move a previously earmarked TV slot for a UFC event in October left them having to withdraw plans to host an event in the UK this year. Zelaznik stated that they were continuing to have dialog with the TV execs about the decision in the hopes of getting them to change their minds.
The UFC have strong ties to Spike TV though, and there are reasons to stay put. For instance the channel is well established as the home of the UFC, and so far when the promotion has experimented with putting content on other channels – such as the ‘UFC Live’ events on Versus TV or preliminary shows on ION TV, the resulting TV ratings have paled in comparison with similiar offerings on Spike TV.
Despite that, MMAfighting are now reporting that sources within the Spike TV channel have indicated that the UFC are likely to back their bags and move elsewhere at the end of the year. It seems that the channel are still keen to be involved with the sport however, with the Bellator Fighting Championships promotion, currently airing on MTV2, believed to be on their radar if the UFC do bail out.
So this is a big decision for the UFC, and while news of their interest in G4 TV has now leaked, it would be wise to assume that they are also considering several other avenues as they look to make their next big step in the television market.