A short video was released on the UFC Youtube channel a couple of days ago entitled “FOX Sports 1: Home of the UFC”. FOX Sports 1 has been the home of the UFC since the company inked a deal in 2011 and aired the first UFC event on November 12, 2011.
The deal was reportedly for seven years worth 100 million dollars per year and expires in 2018.
That puts us right around the halfway mark of the deal, and it’s interesting that a video would be released to remind us that FOX Sports 1 is the home of the UFC. As with all deals, a current deal can be ripped up in favor of a new deal if the numbers are right. By all accounts, FOX got the UFC at a bargain price considering the ratings UFC programming has generated over the years for the fledgling FOX Sports 1 network.
However, the UFC could be positioning themselves to run all the way to the bank with their next deal.
For instance, it’s interesting the UFC President Dana White goes on to FOX competitor ESPN to announce breaking news as of late. It’s interesting that UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey goes on ESPN to promote her upcoming title fight against Holly Holm and to serve as co-host in studio.
I get it, ESPN reaches a broader audience and has more name recognition, but if FOX Sports 1 is the home of the UFC, why not have Rousey appear on their version of ESPN’s SportCenter to draw more eyeballs? Why not announce huge breaking news on FOX Sports 1 instead of ESPN?
The UFC has leverage and could be flexing to get the deal they want as the current deal nears its end. However, proving that they are carrying FOX Sports 1 ratings for the most part with their programming will only take them so far at the negotiating table. The threat of them jumping ship to a rival competitor is negotiating 101 tactics.
Just look at how NASCAR used rival networks to drive their bidding prices up. Also, pay attention to the amount of money that FOX is paying NASCAR compared to the money it’s currently paying for UFC programming.
Stay tuned, and let’s pay attention to just how much UFC President Dana White and others appear on the competitor’s programming moving forward.