The UFC may have signed a deal with Fox, but the real home for most of its programming will end up being on Fox-owned Fuel TV.
With more than 2,000 hours of UFC programming planned for Fuel TV in 2012, the network that currently boasts availability to approximately 36 million homes is bolstering for a big increase in subscribers and outlets in the next year.
The network has already grown its audience by 11 percent, according to UFC president Dana White.
“Since they found out that the UFC is coming to Fox and Fuel is going to be a huge destination – you can’t be a UFC fan and not have Fuel, we’re gonna have so many live fights and MMA content that fans are gonna want – they’ve already gone up 11 percent. They’re in 38 million homes now,” White said.
“And believe me when I tell you, in the next six months, it’s just gonna get bigger and bigger. The distribution is gonna happen for Fuel. It’s gonna be there. So all the people who are UFC fans that are complaining because they don’t have Fuel, that it’s not available in their area, it will be soon.”
Fuel TV Executive Vice President and General Manager George Greenberg echoed those thoughts on Tuesday, when he said that the UFC will call the network home and soon it will be the must-see destination for any and all MMA fans.
He also said that he can’t make cable providers pick up Fuel TV if they don’t already carry it, but the fans will soon be demanding it enough that it’s going to happen.
“I don’t control contracts of affiliates, the deals that we have in place, the only thing I can do here at Fuel TV is make us the most wanted channel of any network on television,” Greenberg stated.
“When people understand very quickly, beginning Jan. 1, that they got to have the UFC, then they’re going to have to have Fuel TV.”
The situation with Fuel TV and the UFC isn’t that different from the relationship that started and grew when the promotion landed a deal with Spike TV several years ago.
At the time, Spike had moved from being The Nashville Network in its earliest inception to just TNN before being branded as Spike and reformatting as a “men’s network station.” As the UFC grew with the birth of The Ultimate Fighter and other events, Spike TV became a major player in the cable arena, where they are now available in more than 100 million homes.
Greenberg believes the growth of Fuel TV will follow the same type of pattern with the UFC’s deal over the next seven years, except he plans on it being bigger and better than anything that happened at Spike.
“We will market the living hell out of the UFC,” said Greenberg, “something which Spike didn’t do as well as they probably should have.
“But when you get two entrepreneurial spirits, like the UFC and Fox, together, the ratings we’re going to achieve for Fuel TV are going to be something we have planned for. The reason why we bought the product, it’s something we looked forward to growing every single year of this deal.”
It’s not going to take long for the UFC to take over Fuel TV. The network will air 24 hours of UFC programming starting on New Year’s Day 2012 as they roll into new programming as the year progresses.