In an article after the UFC On FOX deal first emerged I suggested that when the promotion’s current deal with ESPN UK ends then it may well be that they pack their bags and head for pastures new on FX UK.

Comments from Dana White at Friday’s ‘UFC On FOX 1’ media conference call suggests that it indeed the direction that they are heading in.

The UFC president was asked how UK fans would get to see the first event on FOX in November he revealed they were still negotiating as this show falls outwith the contractual obligations of their ESPN UK deal.

However he then went on to shed light on the company’s longer term plans for the region.

“One of the many things I’m excited about being with FOX is, once all these [TV] deals are at the end of their term we would love to be with FOX over in the UK.  We’re trying to figure all this stuff out, and I think once our deal has expired we will figure it out and we will get this whole UK-Ireland piece of this thing fixed.”

Of course FOX doesn’t exist over in the UK, so it’s actually FX UK that White is referring to and they certainly have a larger reach than ESPN UK, being available on both the SKY and Virgin Media platforms.

For those wondering, the UFC’s current deal with ESPN UK runs until August of 2012, so nothing’s going to happen immediately, but there’s been signs that all is not well between the two parties recently and the fact that White is already naming where he’d like to end up next would appear to confirm that is the case.

Personally I like the idea of the UFC aligning it’s interests under ‘FOX’ in more than one market to reduce the fragmented feel of the current arrangement and bring some sense of synergy to the proceedings.

Of couse in the big scheme of things FX UK does not have the same stature as either FOX or FX does in the States – an equivalent move in the British Isles would be to a major broadcaster like the BBC or ITV.  Sadly at this stage that’s just not a viable option.

FOX are already showing indications of being ready to throw their weight behind the UFC’s push to prominence in the U.S, and it would be good to have them doing likewise in the UK.

5 COMMENTS

  1. i understood danas FOX in UK comment to mean Sky Sports since the people who own FOX (News Corp)own sky sports and if they are willing to back the sport for 7 years in USA then theyll do the same in the UK. same in Asia with Star network im imagining as well.

    no doubt sky would do a great job of promoting the sport and just by being on sky sports alot of people who know nothing about it would give it a shot.

    i HOPE they dont go to Sky Box Office. i would hate that. in USA fans can gather with friends and all pay to watch the PPV together but in UK at 3am thats not possible so who is gonna pay £15 EVERY month to watch an event. and more unlikely still is pay to watch it the next day on delay when you can get see it other ways for free. i dont see going to PPV in UK as “growing the sport”.

    then if it does air on Sky Sports (which is pay per view anyway) will it air LIVE without commercials? if not i dont see that as an improvement on ESPNs coverage which i was damn glad of in 2009 when Sky had no interest in it.

    if ESPN UK have half a clue theyll fight to keep UFC.

    and finally, it took me a few years to catch up and get to know the characters and the histories of the different fighters so a FTA presence wouldnt hurt.

  2. With regards to Sky Sports – you have a point David. I question how interested Sky Sports is in the UFC at this moment in time though.

    They looked to be making in-roads when they bought the rights to air The Ultimate Fighter a couple of seasons back, but then they didn’t make good use of it – airing it practically a week behind the US, and then ditching it after just one season.

    Like you I’d be very wary of Sky Sports getting their hands on the UFC’s live events as there’s always the lingering threat of PPV and let’s be honest, the sport is always going to play second fiddle to football.

    I still believe FX UK could be in their plans. In essence FX is going to be base camp for the UFC in the U.S with occasional forays onto ‘Big FOX’, so mirroring that by having it on FX in the UK as well would work well from a branding and marketing perspective.

    For the most part I’ve been happy with it airing on ESPN UK, but in terms of exposure it’s not the best platform to be on and it is concerning that there seems to be some friction recently which appears to have led to UFC on Spike prelims and Versus events not being aired.

    That doesn’t bode well for the future and it may be that now is the right time to move on to pastures new. I’d like to see them shooting for somewhere like FIVE who already air highlights of some past shows and would reach a broader audience.

    It seems that Dana is sold on the FOX angle though, so we’ll have to wait and see whether that means Sky Sports or if FX UK is still a possibility.

  3. I would love it if the UFC was to be on Sky Sports.. But Sky Sports ave a deal with ESPNwhich probably means that it won’t… it would make sense to me for FOX to make a UK channel (obv FOX UK) or something.. problem solved

  4. Technically FOX do have a UK channel – it’s FX UK. I still think there’s a good chance that Sky Sports will be involved too.

    Personally I’m hoping that it lands on an accessible channel for everybody whether you are with Sky or Virgin…something like FX UK, or even better Channel 5 (who currently air some late night UFC event highlights) would be perfect.

  5. Technically FOX does have a UK Channel – It’s called Sky1 – FX UK is basicly FX in the USA but not many are as interested seeing as Sky1 or SkyAtlantic get all the decent programes first.

    UFC need to strike a deal with SkySports, PPVs on SkySports1 which is avaliable on Sky,Virgin,Freeview+, and pre-lims on SkySports 3 or 4 Only avaliable on Virgin and Sky.
    They also then need to strike up a deal with ITV,Channel 4 or Five to show small but major cards, think of it as UFC ON ITV, Highly unlikly we’ll see it anytime soon though since ITV has recently given up on boxing, channel 4 doesn’t tend to be the sports channel. Five is a maybe, and BBC is very very unlikly as they won’t even show the boxing

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