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« | Home | »

The UFC’s big network TV deal is on… ION

By Zach Arnold | December 27, 2010

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Here’s the MMA Junkie report on the matter.

It’s a curious move. ION is an over-the-air channel in the states but not available in all American markets.

(People confuse free-to-air with over-the-air. Free-to-air is using a satellite dish to legally pick up unencrypted channels. See Sathint for examples.)

To see if your area has the ION channel on cable or antenna, use Antenna Web or TV Fool or Rabbit Ears. On Rabbit Ears, when you get a list of TV networks on your search, the blue links can be clicked on and you’ll get a listing of main channels and sub channels.

The ION network will air three preliminary fights for this Saturday’s UFC 125 event from Las Vegas. (ION airs in 720p resolution for over-the-air. If you have a free-to-air set-up with a satellite dish, you can pick up all ION channel feeds including an HD version on bird AMC 1 at 103W. However, the frequency is C band, not Ku band.)

For a complete listing of ION affiliates in the States, click here.

Josh Gross brings up the obvious angle, which is contract negotiations between UFC and Spike TV.

Here’s the PR launch on Youtube for promoting the 125 event. It needs all the help it can get with the Frankie Edgar/Gray Maynard main event. If you’re interested in watching the show at a bar locally, use this Joe Hand Promotions link to find the nearest location.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 22 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

22 Responses to “The UFC’s big network TV deal is on… ION”

  1. Tyler Treese says:

    My local cable provider has it on basic package and Dish Network has it so i’m all set to watch :)

  2. mr. roadblock says:

    I’m sure the UFC/Spike deal for prelims has first refusal language. So that if UFC offers the fights and Spike doesn’t take them, UFC can go somewhere else with the show.

    However, as I mentioned a few weeks back when Bellator announced its new deal, I think UFC is heading to FX/FOX. Unless Spike ponies up giant money.

    UFC needs to get to network TV soon and retool its business model. It is going to flame out on PPV within three years if it continues on its current pace.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      FOX/FX would be such a huge deal. I could easily see them doing a weekly 2 hour program on FX. And it’s a great channel for MMA.

      Network TV is needed to get the UFC to the next level. While they are doing good, they can’t make it to that next level without a bigger deal for more exposure.

  3. EJ says:

    Well that sucks only because I don’t have ION over here on Comcast so i’m SOL. Regardless it’s an interesting move from what little i’ve read so far though it seems like it’s only a one time thing for now. Either way like Dana has said in the past the UFC will only be on network tv when the right deal comes along. Just like with almost every other stand they’ve made it’ll work out because going on network tv just to say you did hasn’t helped out anyother mma org.

  4. Pierre-Luc Allie says:

    Wow! On the same network as BodogFight used to be. That’s a big deal. Did they got rejected by MyNetworkTV???

    UFC would be better off buying air time on local station around the country and then sell the ads space themself.

  5. Fluyid says:

    I guess ION is making their big move, like The Nashville Network once did.

  6. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time on Satellite TV forums, and in general, most anything you can pick up that doesn’t cost money is called “FTA” by those folks.

    But anyways – If Ion is a bargaining piece for them, man, its a lousy one. If the ratings for the prelims (which have no lead in, no advertisements playing, not UFC prgramming to piggyback off of) are terrible…and they will be…does it really put the UFC in a better place to argue?

  7. David M says:

    If Showtime or Bellator or any of the other mma promotions got a spot on Ion, our most steadfast UFC nuthugger would be bashing the hell out of them for signing with a meaningless network that nobody cares about or watches that will draw terrible ratings.

    Let’s see if there are similar comments made now that his deity has signed with Ion.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Little bit of a difference….

      If Bellator got that as their primary deal, it would be bad. Just like if Strikeforce or the UFC had the deal as their PRIMARY DEAL, it would be bad.

      This is a situation where SpikeTV doesn’t want a prelim show, so the UFC is putting it on another network. This is not a primary deal. This is not their primary source of income.

      Sure, it has less exposure, but for fans who have the channel and want to see it, it’s good for them. Not to mention this isn’t even a long term deal. This is a one time card thing for now. Huge difference.

      Long term, the UFC would be best to get their shows on as many channels as possible. I can watch Yankees games during the season on YES, MyNetwork TV, ESPN, ESPN2, TBS, and FOX. 6 channels for one team depending on the game. All that does is help promote exposure. And their fans follow them to whatever channel they are on.

      Which really does bring me to my last point. Which is that the UFC would be best off getting their fans use to not just turning to SpikeTV for their telecasts. The more they can get their fans to look for what station they are on and then following them that way…. The easier it is for the UFC to move from station to station with no issues. Right now they have SpikeTV, Versus, and ION (for 1 show). The more channels, the more exposure, the better for their product.

      But as a primary deal, this ION think would be horrible….

  8. Chromium says:

    Even for prelims this is a bad deal. Above anything else, prelims are advertising for UFC PPVs, so doing this more than once or twice would be dumb. I have to think they’re trying to get more money from Spike for their prelims. Purely a negotiating tactic, otherwise something is really wrong here.

  9. Safari_Punch says:

    TNN/The National Network/Spike TV hosed ECW and got rid of the WWE. Anyone think that the UFC isn’t going to get the boot eventually?

    • Pierre-Luc Allie says:

      When they got rid of ECW, they had WWE. When they got rid of WWE, they had UFC. Now their only significance property is UFC. No UFC, Spike is back to being nothing. Spike never successfully build another franchise on the UFC. Zuffa has A LOT of leverage over Spike and Versus. Both of them need more Zuffa than Zuffa needs them.

  10. 45 Huddle says:

    Nick Diaz signed on for a few more years with Strikeforce.

    It’s easy to call out guys like GSP when you have no intentions of trying to free up your contract in order to make an attempt at fighting him.

    • edub says:

      Good call. No one told him to call out GSP or other high profile WWs in Zuffa’s stable. He has guys that he can fight in semi-high profile matchups in SF anyway: Miller, Daley, Woodley down the line.

      Maybe he just couldn’t see a way to get out of the champion’s clause in his contract though?

      • 45 Huddle says:

        He refuses to fight Miller. So that one won’t happen.

        And Woodley isn’t a guarantee. His contract is likely to come up before he gets a title shot. If he becomes a free agent, Strikeforce will either have to pay him big money to stay or lose him to the UFC.

        And remember what happened when Strikeforce signed Mousasi to a long term contract? Didn’t exactly work out in their favor.

        • edub says:

          I think the Mayhem fight can happen if Diaz get’s enough money to go all the way to 185, or visa versa with Miller and 179.

          You could be right about Woodley, but I think he still holds a grudge against Zuffa in the back of his mind because they denied his TUF slot. Who know what will happen with him though…

          The Mousasi deal is exactly what it was. They paid for a guy who expressed he didn’t want to fight strictly in SF or even in MMA. So in the end they get a striker with little takedown defense or willingness to adapt his game to the American style rule set (this is my opinion on him at least). Also you have a contender who never fights the other contenders in his division. The King Mo fight was 8 months ago now…

      • Coyote says:

        King Mo was out for 8 months beacuse he was injured. Now he is fighting Jeff Monson on March (i hear that).

        And for Nick, if i was paid for that, trash callout words, i will call for Lesnar anytime, or even Sakuraba. Dont think your so clever, this guys are just making his work for the future. Money.

        Anyone who thinks this bunch of MMA fighters are putting his healthy on line just for the “”"”FANS”"”" or for be the number 1 spot of the history, damm, its not so clever.

  11. The Gaijin says:

    Welp…Cain is out 6-8 months for shoulder surgery…the plot thickens at HW. If Brock really wants a Wrestlemania payday, this certainly increases his leverage. Question is who does JDS fight in the interim?

    • 45 Huddle says:

      These guys have to learn how to train better. Half of the UFC and Strikeforce roster has been out with at least some injury over the last year or so.

      And I’m sure I will get some slack from others for this comment… But this is one of the drawbacks of increasing fighter pay enough that they are comfortable to miss a 6 months to a year without it being a problem.

  12. The Gaijin says:

    Actually in Cain’s case it sounds like it is pretty serious – 90% tear of rotator cuff. Somewhat inclined to agree on willingness to fight, all else being equal, but can’t begrudge guys looking out for themselves in the long run when the window of opportunity is so short…these guys aren’t chattel.

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