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Tuesday, October 26, 2010
UFC eyes 2011 TV deals

By Jake Rossen

Broadcasting & Cable's Ben Grossman somehow managed to get reclusive UFC president Dana White to offer quotes for a brief Q&A following Saturday's heavily publicized dethroning of Brock Lesnar.

Obviously, Grossman was most interested in White's plans for programming. "We will [be on broadcast TV in 2011]," White said. "[A UFC network] will happen within the next couple years."


White has been "close" to television deals for years, though Comcast's recent affiliation with NBC and Versus (home of his WEC promotion) could make a common ground easier to settle on. A sticking point in deals past was who would control production. (Major networks typically use their own in-house broadcast team, while the UFC apparently insists on having Mike Goldberg's precise precision maintained.) Grossman also floated the idea of a late-night UFC show on Fox's Saturday schedule. But hasn't the sport moved beyond graveyard slots?

A UFC network, which has clear parallels to the WWE's planned cable station coming in 2011, would presumably draw from the thousands of hours of archived content (going back to 1993) and hype material for current shows. In both instances, the problem becomes how to maintain a level of interest with cards happening on a roughly bi-weekly basis. The wrestling companies can churn out hours of live programming every week because wrestlers don't need 8-12 weeks of training to perform. But when a sport's biggest stars fight every 4-6 months, it risks watering down the product to meet the demands of multiple television deals.

Then again, the UFC's market saturation is a welcome change from the days when fans had to wait six months for a single event.