Last fall, Dana White said the UFC would have it’s own cable channel one day. Well, according to multiple reports, that day may be coming very soon. The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times are reporting that the UFC is in talks with Comcast to acquire a 60% or more controlling stake in their G4 cable network.
It’s unclear how far along negotiations are between Comcast and the UFC, but MMA Fighting’s Mike Chiappetta is hearing that the UFC’s current broadcast partner Spike TV is already preparing for life without the UFC by courting Bellator for a television deal in 2012.
While nothing is close to final, Spike is no longer aggressively seeking to renew its deal with UFC, practically ensuring that the promotion will find a new home for its Ultimate Fighter series, along with other UFC programming.
Several Spike employees are openly referring to the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter as “the last season,” and as MMA Fighting reported recently, Spike executives have been on site at recent Bellator events, familiarizing themselves with the promotion. According to a source, it’s likely that Bellator will return to weekday events, possibly on Thursdays, so as not to directly compete with UFC. Bellator’s current broadcast deal is with MTV2, which like Spike, is owned by the media conglomerate Viacom.
If the UFC does close a deal with Comcast to buy G4, it’s believed that network will become the new of The Ultimate Fighter reality show along with other UFC programming. It’s also worth noting though that DirecTV dropped G4 late last year for low ratings, but considering the UFC’s close relationship with DirecTV for pay-per-view events, it’s believed the UFC could help get G4 back on DirecTV’s line-up.
Of course, that all assumes a deal gets done and that hasn’t happened as of yet. The UFC is still in talks with other networks, so it’s possible this deal will fall through.
Update: Talks are at an early stage, according to The Hollywood Reporter.