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Ben Grossman of B & C on how UFC’s new 7-year TV deal with Fox materialized

By Zach Arnold | August 29, 2011

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Ben Grossman is the Editor-in-chief of Broadcasting & Cable (bio here). You won’t hear the name Ari Emanuel mentioned as the ‘fixer’, the go-between, whatever you want to call him. However, UFC is one of his clients and he gets results in Hollywood.

KENNY RICE: “Ben, how did this all come to place? Because one of the biggest things has always been that Zuffa controlled, and this is amazing that they’ve been able to do that, that’s why they said no to Showtime & CBS & HBO and everybody over the years, they control what they show. And the NFL is about the only other outfit that even comes close to saying, ‘we still have the rights to what’s on your air.’ How did Fox agree to that?”

BEN GROSSMAN: “Yeah, it was a big deal. I remember it was last October after Brock got knocked out in Anaheim, I was talking to Dana and Dana said ‘we’re getting a broadcast deal next year,’ and I said, yeah, OK, and he’s got a broadcast deal! What happened was he went around to everybody and he was talking to NBC, he was talking to Turner, he was talking to all the big TV networks & studios and said I’d love to make the deal but here’s the two things that have to happen — it’s got to be on broadcast TV and I need to control all the production. We all thought that they were going to be with HBO a bunch of years ago but HBO refused to give up production, Dana will not bend on that and it’s pretty impressive. So, what happens is he’s got this deal with Fox where for the fights themselves, that one hour window on those four Saturday nights on Fox, Dana gets to produce it. The stuff around it and The Ultimate Fighter, that’s the stuff that Fox gets to produce so that’s going to be the new look for the TV stuff.”

KENNY RICE: “So that was the compromise then, sort of, in the middle?”

BEN GROSSMAN: “I mean, he’s saying, look, Fox knows what they’re doing, they’ve worked with them before, and now it’s a chance for Fox who’s got a lot of great production values to bring some of that, especially to The Ultimate Fighter. The guys who run FX are really, really good. There’s a guy [named] John Landgraf who’s the President of FX, the guy really gets television. So, I’m pretty excited to see what he’s going to do with The Ultimate Fighter.”

BAS RUTTEN: “What if the fights get longer because we see that happen, that was the problem with the IFL all the way back with FSN, suddenly you’re watching the show and in the middle of the fight, boom, time was up, next show must come on, they just cut it off. But that’s not going to happen here, I assume?”

BEN GROSSMAN: “So, let’s take the first Saturday night November 12th on Fox. It’s live, so what they’re doing is one hour, it’s a one-hour window, you’re going to have an hour pre-game show on Fuel on cable from 8-9 PM and from 9-10 PM you’ve got the live event on Fox and then a post-game show on Fuel. But for that one hour on Fox apparently they’re going to only show two fights and two three-round fights at that, so apparently no championship fights, right? So, two three-round fights within that hour and they’re going to see how that goes. If it’s two quick knockouts, they’ll show something from the prelims. They’re going to have that down to as science, this is that chance to make a first impression that night so that the two fights have got to be great and the production values have to be through the roof because everybody’s going to be watching this to see if Fox messes this up, frankly.”

BAS RUTTEN: “They’re putting a five-second delay on Joe Rogan?”

BEN GROSSMAN: “Exactly, but at least Joe Rogan doesn’t spit at people.”


MICHAEL BISPING: “Excuse me! Outside!”

Kenny Rice asks Michael Bisping if getting booked on The Ultimate Fighter opposite Mayhem Miller is UFC’s form of punishment for what happened with the spitting incident with Jorge Rivera.

KENNY RICE: “So this is not punishment for spitting at Jorge Rivera’s corner?”

MICHAEL BISPING: “Well, I’d just like to clarify right now that I never spat at Jorge Rivera’s corner men. I spat on the floor to show the contempt that I felt for him and his team and the antics they pulled before the fight and during the fight. You know, there’s a lot of things that went on leading up to the fight that you don’t know, like calling my hotel room at 4 in the morning, calling the gym where I’m training and doing prank calls, talking all kinds of things about my family and stuff like that. Every morning we’d go out for breakfast and they would shout out things. In all the years I’ve been a professional fighter, I’ve never encountered a team like this. So, when I beat that guy, it felt good and I spat on the floor to show the contempt that I felt to say, screw you guys, you know. They can say whatever they want.

“Is it punishment, to answer your question? Sorry I went off on a tangent there!”

KENNY RICE: “We need to get this cleared up because we talked about it and I said I can’t believe you’d spit at a guy and I meet you and I got to tell you as I’m sure some people do, you’re not what I expected. I expected some guy coming in here and you know we have a cape here in case you spit at us and this is going to get crazy this year, but a nice, well-mannered young man, you know, that’s what I’ve said.”

MICHAEL BISPING: “Thank you very much, I appreciate that. Listen, people have a problem, a perception of me, you know, and I’m not like that at all. I’m always very courteous to people, I’m fan-friendly, but really at the end of the day as long as my friends, my family, and my team are happy with me, I couldn’t really care less about what some nerds on the Internet think. When I meet people, no one’s ever had a bad thing to say about me. I treat people with respect and they treat me with respect and that’s the way it goes.”

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 6 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

6 Responses to “Ben Grossman of B & C on how UFC’s new 7-year TV deal with Fox materialized”

  1. Jason says:

    Gotta love it, even the UFC is a client of Ari Gold, er um I mean Ari Emanuel. VICTORY!!

  2. Chromium says:

    I’m not hearing anything new here really, and this statement seems to contradict other things I’ve heard:

    “So, what happens is he’s got this deal with Fox where for the fights themselves, that one hour window on those four Saturday nights on Fox, Dana gets to produce it.”

    My understanding is that only the first show in November would be one hour, the rest would be two or possibly three-hour events.

    • Kelvin Hunt says:

      Yea, I think got confused there. The way I understand it is that this November show is NOT one of the 4 shows in the contract to air on FOX.

      • Chromium says:

        Yeah, I’m pretty sure that one’s a “bonus” show so the UFC can move to Fox with the ground running and already get a bit of preliminary exposure. Spike’s deal with the UFC puts a cap on the number of events they can broadcast on other cable networks (at four) I believe, but not on terrestrial networks (such as Fox or well, technically Ion).

  3. Luke says:

    So UFC won’t produce the Fight Night cards or the TUF Finales on FX?


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