The cable wars have begun

Posted: January 20, 2012 in Bellator, Local MMA, Marketing, PR, Strikeforce, UFC

The UFC/Fox relationship was momentous for MMA. However it would appear the rest of the broadcast community is not as happy as fans are.

SPIKE TV is now airing pre-recorded UFC programming it still owns the rights to in order to compete with live programming taking place on Fox. With three events in January (UFC 142 Prelims, UFC on FX 1 Guillard v Miller, UFC on Fox 2 Evans v Davis) – it will be interesting to see what the ratings comparison are for each channel.

Given SPIKE lost the contract for UFC, their attempt to keep an audience and burn a former partner is somewhat understandable. (Petty, but I get it – you don’t want to lose a large audience you spent time developing.) What is not understandable is the recent assault from ESPN.

ESPN has recently aired programs that call the UFC a monopoly and blasts organization stating that it does not pay its talent fair wages.  Considering ESPN calls itself the “worldwide leader in sports,” the monopoly argument is ridiculous. If UFC is a monopoly then I hope there will be equal specials criticizing other sports and calling out the MLB, NHL, NFL and the NBA.

In terms of placing any credence to the wages argument, we can all look to the very vocal Michael Bisping to respond (as he would know more than anyone of us how the UFC treats its fighters).

I think it is very convenient that ESPN is just now looking to cover this “story” now that competing Fox Sports is the primary partner and the UFC is picking up ESPN talent left and right. Perhaps I’m jaded but this feels less like journalism and more like sour grapes.

The UFC has already offered a rebuttal to ESPN  but I’ll be watching with keen interest to see what the MMA marketing juggernaut does next to continue to put out these character assaults.

  1. McClain says:

    Maybe now the mainstream conversation surrounding MMA will shift from barbarism to the promoters being misers? Makes DW’s job more challenging, but it’s a better place for MMA as a whole IMO — less scrutiny on the fighters themselves.

  2. I agree McClain. I may not agree with the attacks on DW, but I am certainly all for the conversation shifting to the business behind the sport, rather than the former connotation it had.

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