The extent of the deal for Zuffa, LLC, to purchase Strikeforce now has more details rolling out, including how the promotion will be run in regards to its relationship with Showtime.
Showtime currently runs the production side of all of the Strikeforce broadcasts for their network, as well as working with the CBS team when they broadcast events.
“Showtime controls the production, which includes the announcers, it includes how the show is broadcast, all those different things. So I’m sure we’ll give them input, and whether or not they take our input and implement it or not, is entirely up to them,” Zuffa co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta remarked on Monday.
So if fans thought they were done with Gus Johnson, think again.
The other side of the deal includes the current contract that Strikeforce has with Showtime. According to Fertitta, the current contract extends through 2014, which is longer than many original reports that had the deal ending in 2012.
Fertitta says that as a company, Zuffa is willing to sit down and talk to anybody about a broadcast deal, but as of yet, they haven’t had that opportunity to speak with Showtime officials.
“We’re really in the early stages here,” he said. “We haven’t even had a chance to sit down and meet the Showtime guys yet as far as what the future holds, but as of right now, there’s a contract in place where Strikeforce is going to deliver 16 fights to Showtime, and if they want to do something beyond that, then we’ll certainly sit down and talk with them.”
One thing that is very clear when speaking to the UFC owner is that the door is open to that possibility, whether it be with Showtime or CBS.
The UFC currently has a broadcast deal in place with Spike TV, which coincidentally is owned by Viacom, which also owns Showtime and CBS, but under the terms of that deal the MMA powerhouse can extend its offerings to network TV and subscription based channels.
“We talk to different networks all the time and as you guys know, we have the ability now, and we’ve always had the ability under our contract with Viacom and Spike to do shows on network TV and on subscription, which HBO and Showtime fall into, but so far we have not been able to do a deal with any of those networks that makes sense for us from a financial standpoint, from a business standpoint,” Fertitta commented.
“We’re certainly willing to sit down and continue to talk.”
The UFC and Showtime have had a historically volatile relationship, but that doesn’t mean fences can’t be mended down the road if the right deal comes along.
For now, however, Strikeforce will continue to rely on the cable giant for their production needs, but Zuffa will be there as big brother to make sure the show goes smoothly.