UFC Reaches TV Deal with Fox - MMA to go Mainstream

In perhaps the most exciting turn of events in Mixed Martial Arts history, the UFC recently announced a seven-year broadcast deal with Fox Sports Media Group.  The UFC previously contracted out its broadcast rights to Spike TV with the majority of its fights available only on pay-per-view.  This monumental announcement means that, for the first time, the UFC (MMA's preeminent organization) will be providing regular programming outside the parameters of basic cable and PPV and, instead, broadcasting on network TV.  Fox will be hosting both live events and transitioning The Ultimate Fighter franchise to FX.

So the question remains, what does this mean to the sport of MMA?  What is means is the continuing development of MMA as a mainstream sport.  With increased visibility and accessibility, the UFC has moved one giant step towards joining the three-letter acronym pantheon with the likes of MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA.  No longer will UFC events be accessible solely to those willing to fork out $59.95.  Instead, the masses will now have access to the sport like never before.  With increased visibility, the UFC can continue to whittle away at the misnomer that MMA is merely human cockfighting.  Instead, a new platform exists to show the perseverance and skill of these elite athletes.

Sometimes when Dana White talks, his rhetoric is described as nothing more than boisterous hyperbole meant to bolster interest in the sport through controversy.  But for many years, Dana has claimed that, someday, the UFC would be hosting the biggest sport in the world.  By partnering with Fox, Dana White's once fanciful aspirations suddenly do not seem so far fetched.  Everyone tune in.  The UFC's evolution is now only a channel click away.

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  • Since Fox has all sorts of neworks (and you said that their intent is to transition it to FX), this doesn't mean that it is going to be on broadcast TV.

    In fact, Fox's MyNetworkTV had some sort of team MMA program a couple of years ago (the Brazilian Jujitsu fighters from NY vs. the Shamrocks, and the like, and the toughs from the Quad Cities). That sure disappeared in a hurry.

    So, unless you are expecting more than FX, or Fox Sports Net filler on Comcast Sports Net, I wouldn't make bets on this becoming like Fox announcing that it overpaid for rights to the NFL for its fledgling OTA network, about 25 years ago.

  • It's not just FX or Fox Sports Net . . . "The agreement delivers four live UFC events a year in prime time or late night to the FOX broadcast network. A card scheduled for Nov. 12 in Anaheim, Calif., will kick off the partnership.

    Additional programming on FX, Fuel TV and Fox Sports Net launches in January. FX will host 32 live fight events a year on Friday nights, including six UFC cards and a complete revamp of the promotion's instrumental reality program "The Ultimate Fighter," which finishes its run on Spike TV with Season 14 starting in September."

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