By: William Holmes
The UFC and FOX Sports Media Group held a press conference today at 1PM to announce a huge television deal.
Joe Rogan starts off the media press conference and introduces Fox Sports Media Group Chairman David Hill, co-president Eric Shanks of Fox Sports Media Group, Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta, and FX President John Landgraf. Also in attendance is former UFC champion Rashad Evans, Chuck Liddell, Frankie Edgar, and Georges St. Pierre.
David Hill addresses the media and welcomes them to the press conference. David Hill stated that Fox first started talking to the UFC about ten years ago, at that time Lorenzo stated that what boxing was to your generation, UFC is and will be to this generation. David Hill notes that Dana White and the Fertitta brothers have taken a niche sport and transformed it into a mainstream sport. David Hill calls the UFC the ultimate 3-D experience. David Hill gives credit to Eric and Randy for helping make this deal a reality. David Hill believes that this sport is going to get bigger and bigger, and that this is just the beginning. David Hill also notes that this isn’t the first time that Fox Sports has been involved with the UFC, and that they had put on an event on the show the Best Damn Sports Show Period.
Eric takes the microphone, and notes that they will have 4 major events a year on fox, 32 events a year on FX, and 2 runs of the ultimate fighter a year. Fuel will have pre and post fights and for pay per views. Eric notes that Dana and the Fertitta brothers pour their heart and soul into the UFC.
Dana notes that the Ultimate Fighter will be on FX live, which is a big change from how it was broadcast on Spike. Dana states that this is the biggest moment in the UFC’s history, to have a deal with a major network like Fox. Dana is very pleased to be on a network with all the other major sports, such as the NFL, the MLB, and NASCAR. Dana is very proud to be on network TV.
Lorenzo Fertitta also expresses Dana’s sentiments, in that this is a very big day in taking the UFC to the next level. Lorenzo notes that they have been working on a deal like this for the past ten years. Lorenzo also notes that the UFC has had success all over the world, and that this deal is the icing on the cake. Lorenzo notes that this isn’t just a deal that will put a big fight on TV, but will touch every aspect of the sport. Lorenzo is also excited to be on FX with live fights and the Ultimate Fighter live.
Randy takes the mic and points out the similarities between FX and the UFC. They both started to grow around the same time, and both produce excellent ratings. FX is excited to have professional sports on their network. He also promises big changes in the Ultimate Fighter, and states that the show will be taped the week of, and what happens that week will be shown on FX followed by a live fight.
Dana states that the Ultimate Fighter has been a very successful platform for the UFC. Dana states that the reality will be “jive live” and all the fights will be live. Dana also states that the two coaches who coach will have their training camp at the show for twelve weeks. FX will have six fight nights on their broadcast, as well as twenty six weeks of fights from the ultimate fighter to show. In total, FX will broadcast 32 weeks of live fights. It is also announced that the audience will get to choose who gets to fight on the Ultimate Fighter.
David Hill notes that he had reservations back in 2001, but he saw what was happening with the sport, and the key difference was that boxing was one dimensional and the UFC was three dimensional. He thought the Ultimate Fighter was enjoyable and cerebral. He likes the fact that you get to know the athletes through the show, and it is entirely different from how he got to know boxing back when pterodactyls’ ruled the Earth. David Hill also stated that he believes that the UFC production is first class, and there will be discussions about production as the years go on.
Dana White notes live fight they ever did on television was with fox sports. The deal they always wanted was with Fox. They always believed that the UFC would be this big, and they always wanted to be with Fox. Dana also announces that the first event on Fox will be on Saturday November 12th. No main event has been announced yet. The deal they have with Fox is for seven years.
Early on in the negotiation process there was some discussions about a UFC only channel, but they ended up doing a pure rights deal. Fuel will have a significant amount of UFC supporting programming and live programming, including UFC unleashed and prelim fights. UFC content will also be broadcast on Fox Deportes.
A representative from Fox states that they would not have gone into this deal if they have not canvassed a large group of advertisers to discover if they are 100% behind it. A lot of companies are willing to advertise with the UFC. The UFC’s ability to attract major sponsors has already been broken through, and UFC programming is an efficient way to target young males.
Lorenzo states that back in 2001, if the UFC could pick whatever network they wanted to be on, they would have picked FOX. Plus they have a huge depth of platforms including FX and Fuel and the company is strong in international markets. It was a simple decision to choose the right home for the UFC. There may be championship fights on FOX, but big fights will definitely be on the broadcast network. The deal that the UFC has signed with Fox Latin America will help speed up the UFC’s plans to go to Mexico.
Representatives from Fox are very confident that they can bring more eyeballs to the sport than Spike.
Lorenzo also notes that Fox has done many major events. If you look at the history of sports many major sporting events were fights. Since boxing is so fragmented it is difficult to put on major fights. With the UFC, Fox has a platform to put on big fights and make them major events. The Fox deal is a fresh start for the UFC. They want to change the look of the PPV, from the graphics to the look. They will be working closely with FOX to enhance the look and feel of UFC events. This deal will allow millions of people to see the UFC for the first time. There will be a lot of things they are going to add and change. The gladiator opening that the UFC is famous for will be going away.
A lot of cross promotion will occur for the UFC amongst a lot of Fox’s other shows and broadcasts. A lot of tactical ideas have yet to come. There is an 80% overlap of young men who watch the UFC and who watch FX, which is one of the reasons this deal made sense for both Fox Sports Media Group and the UFC.
The growth and potential of this deal for the sport of MMA is explosive, and now that the UFC is on network television, MMA can be officially considered a mainstream sport.