The UFC’s now television deal with BT Sport is now underway after the channel’s launch on August 1st, and it’s left many of the promotion’s loyal UK fans in limbo as they don’t have access to it.
For many years, dating back to when the UFC was airing on Setanta Sports, and more recently ESPN UK, Virgin Media was the server provider of choice for fans of MMA, but that’s all changed after they failed to strike a deal with BT sport.
“Following the large number of enquiries from Virgin Media customers and press speculation, we can confirm that we have not agreed a wholesale deal for BT Sport with Virgin Media,” A BT Sport spokesman stated earlier this week.
In the days prior to that it had been reported that the two parties had been in negotiations, with many believing that BT Sport would hold out until the last moment before agreeing a deal, but the channel is now broadcasting and no agreement is in place.
That means that Virgin Media’s reported 3.8 million subscribers won’t be able to watch tonight’s UFC 163 event from Rio De Janeira, Brazil and a big question mark remains over the chances of a deal being struck before other major upcoming events and show’s like ‘The Ultimate Fighter 18’ take place.
To make matters worse, the UFC’s new deal with BT Sport has also resulted in an end to the purchasing of live event streaming through UFC.TV in the UK.
There’s better news for subscribers to BT’s internet packages ‘Infinity’ and ‘BT Broadband’ though as they get the channel for free, while Sky viewers can pay a monthly fee to add it to their package.
Meanwhile, BT Sport have also indicated that they are still open to hammering out a deal with Virgin Media, “for the right price.”
The UFC had been hopeful to strike a television deal in the UK that would help grow the sport in the region, but with much of the existing fan-base there now effectively out of the loop, for the time being it feels like a backwards step.