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.