by Mitch Gobetz & Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Negotiations between the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Home Box Office have ceased according to a report by R. Thomas Umstead of Multichannel News. The two parties have tried for months to come to terms on a deal that would allow the UFC to broadcast live events on the premium television network.
There have been many snags in the negotiations, with much media attention surrounding production details. UFC president Dana White, however, has constantly sounded confident that a deal would eventually be reached.
Before the breakdown in negotiations, the promotion event went so far recently as to search out a location for an event planned to air on the network sometime in early December.
According to a statement released by HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg, “After lots of discussion, it became apparent that the business model doesn’t make sense for either one of us. So we agreed to go our separate ways. You never know what the future holds. We have enormous respect and admiration for the executives we dealt with at the UFC. We wish them well.”
A later report by Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports quoted White as saying that, despite Greenburg’s comments to the contrary, “We’ll come to a deal with HBO; I’m 100 percent confident of that.” He still believes that both sides want the deal, apparently even if Greenburg isn’t among those that are supportive of an agreement.
Amidst the HBO fallout, the UFC is also in talks with SpikeTV about extending its current deal. The promotion has consistently provided SpikeTV with high ratings in the coveted 18-34 male demographic. UFC 75, which aired on Sept. 8 on the network, averaged 4.7 million viewers and was the most watched program on television that night among men 18-34 years old.
According to previous reports in both MultiChannel News and Variety, any new deal is expected to cost Spike TV over $100 million.