A pair of major MMA television deals are in the works according to separate reports today.
ESPN.com has learned that the UFC’s rumored 2012 broadcast deal with NBC and takeover of the company’s G4 network may not happen now, as the unconfirmed rumbling are that negotiations may have broken down. Several sources say Fox — including its FOX Network, FX, Fox Sports Net and Fuel properties — is the new front runner for a UFC distribution deal and that an agreement could be done by the end of the month.
Interestingly, the UFC just announced a two-year broadcasting deal with Fox Sports Latin America. It may just be a coincidence, but the timing is interesting nonetheless. ESPN & MMA Payout also noted that Fox’s “action sports” network Fuel TV would “likely be the hub for UFC content and could be renamed and rebranded as such” if the deal actually goes through, which of course is no guarantee.
In another potential deal, Cage Potato reported today that ProElite is in late-stage talks to return to Showtime and CBS.
Sources close to the promotion that was recently brought back from the verge of death by Stratus Media Group, who acquired a 95 percent ownership stake of the company in June, have informed CagePotato.com that ProElite is in the final stages of negotiations for a multi-year television deal with Viacom that will see its events broadcast on both Showtime and CBS starting in the first quarter of 2012.
CP’s Mike Russell explains how Wall Street could be the driving force behind the deal:
Viacom owns 20 percent, or approximately 11,991,172 of the 59,955,862 outstanding shares of ProElite (PELE) which are currently trading at 48 cents each after sitting at a penny for the past three years since EliteXC folded. At the height of EliteXC’s popularity, the ProElite’s shares routinely traded at $15. A resurgence of the company aided by a deal with Viacom, would mean that for every dollar they can raise the stock purchase price by, the media conglomerate could stand to earn close to $12 million U.S.
If you recall, Strikeforce’s current deal with Showtime expires in February 2012 (CP is hearing it could end sooner if Showtime doesn’t approve of the quality of cards Zuffa is putting on) with an option to extend it into 2014, but if Showtime moves forward with ProElite, it seems doubtful that they would exercise such an option to keep the competition on their network while trying to rebuild ProElite. That would of course only fuel more speculation that Strikeforce’s days are numbered, but as of now, none of this is a done deal yet so take it all with a grain of salt.
Update: ProElite Vice President of Fight Operations T. Jay Thompson told MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani that there is “no truth” to the CBS/Showtime rumors.
“There is absolutely no truth to the report that we are close to a deal with CBS and Showtime,” he said.
Thompson said they are talking to “everyone” in the TV world but stopped short at saying who was the frontrunner. The organization’s Aug. 27 show will stream live on Sherdog.com, but Thompson hopes he will have a TV deal in place by the promotion’s second show.
Thompson also says they are planning a heavyweight grand prix for their second show in November, but unlike Strikeforce, it will mostly consist of unknown fighters.