by Ivan Trembow – MMAWeekly.com
The IFL has announced the details surrounding the second part of its television schedule for the 2007 season. In addition to the previously announced weekly timeslot on the network television station MyNetworkTV, the IFL will also have a weekly timeslot on Fox Sports Net.
One-hour IFL broadcasts will air on Fox Sports Net every Friday night at 11:00 PM local time starting on February 23rd, with each of the IFL’s 2007 events airing in the order in which they take place. This will continue throughout March and April, leading up to Friday, April 13th at 11:00 PM, when FSN will air an IFL event that will air on a tape delay of just a few hours.
The April 13th event will take place at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, after originally being scheduled for Lakeland, Florida and later considered for the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada (which is going to be the “home base” of sorts for the Zuffa-owned WEC events).
This will still leave the IFL with 16 remaining hours of FSN programming in 2007, as FSN’s commitment to the IFL in 2007 is for 22 hour-long episodes (up significantly from FSN’s 2006 commitment of 13 hours).
While it’s far from an ideal timeslot, Fridays at 11:00 PM local time was specifically chosen because Friday is the least likely night for FSN affiliates to preempt FSN’s national programming for local sports coverage.
In 2006, the IFL aired on FSN with a Sunday at 6:00 PM timeslot, but many FSN affiliates routinely air regional sports coverage on Sundays, so the IFL was preempted in many markets.
With the timeslot of Fridays at 11:00 PM timeslot, the IFL will be preempted by less local FSN affiliates, and will also be able to have a consistent weekly timeslot.
In the case of the February 23rd season premiere, it is scheduled to air on that date at 11:00 PM local time on every single FSN affiliate in the United States other than the two Comcast SportsNet co-branded affiliates (Comcast Philadelphia and Comcast Mid-Atlantic), which will have replays on a different day.
The weekly hour-long show on Fox Sports Net starting on February 23rd is in addition to the previously announced deal with upstart network television station MyNetworkTV, which is available in over 95% of U.S. households. The IFL’s two-hour weekly show on MyNetworkTV will air every Monday night starting on March 12th from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM local time, with a weekly replay on Saturday nights from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM local time. MyNetworkTV’s commitment to the IFL in 2007 is for 22 episodes, which adds up to 44 hours of original programming.
While nothing of the sort has been announced as of yet, it would come as a surprise to no one if Zuffa were to announce at some point in the coming weeks or months that replays of UFC programming are going to start airing on Spike TV more frequently on Monday and/or Friday nights, head-to-head with the IFL’s new shows.
The reason that this would not be a surprise is because it has become the norm. Zuffa aired a multi-hour Best of UFC marathon on Spike TV head-to-head with the World Fighting Alliance’s ill-fated pay-per-view on July 22, 2006. When Pride ran its first event in the U.S. on October 21, 2006, Zuffa ran another UFC marathon on Spike TV. When EliteXC has its first event this Saturday night on Showtime, Zuffa will not only be airing a UFC marathon on Spike TV to go head-to-head with the live premiere of EliteXC, but they will actually be airing a second UFC marathon on Spike TV to go head-to-head with the West Coast feed of EliteXC on Showtime.
Based on all of this, it would actually be a surprise if the UFC didn’t go head-to-head with the IFL at some point.