FOX Sports Media Group chairman David Hill agrees with Dana White that the growth potential of the UFC is “explosive” and Zuffa has taken it to a “mainstream sport.”
“You look at where Frank and Lorenzo (Fertitta) and Dana have taken this sport, and it’s literally that small of a group. That’s the braintrust that have made it work for the past decade. Imagine what’s going to happen in the next decade. I really think the growth potential of this is explosive.”
“We first started talking to the UFC 10 years ago,” Hill said. “Lorenzo said something to me then that I didn’t believe, but over the last 10 years, I have. He said, ‘What boxing was to your generations, UFC will be and is to the next upcoming generation.’ And I watched in amazement.
“There’s one thing about sports and television. It’s the ultimate democratic process. Television can’t make a sport. We can enhance it. We can grow it, but we can’t make it. The people have to speak. What Dana and Frank and Lorenzo have done, they’ve taken a little niche sport, MMA, and called it UFC. In 10 years, they have taken it to a mainstream sport. The key was recognizing what people wanted. It’s the ultimate democratic thing.”
Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White on the kind of fights we can expect on FOX.
“You may not have championships on every fight,” Fertitta said. “There may be championships on some of them. But I can tell you that we’re going to deliver big fights on broadcast network – fights that mean something and there’s a lot hanging on the line.”
“We try to put on the best fights,” White said. “We want to pull ratings. We want to pull the big numbers. We want to give the fans what we feel they deserve. And there’s a lot of times that we’ll use the television shows to highlights a new up-and-coming star or whatever it might be. It depends on the situation.”
FX president John Landgraf on ratings expectations.
“You’ve got to look at the matchup – what the lead-in is going to be,” FX president John Landgraf said. “I think we probably haven’t set a true expectation. We haven’t gone out selling this yet to a particular rating. We know it’s going to be huge, and we’re going to put everything we have at our disposal into making it as big as possible.
“This is obviously a property that we believe in and want to see succeed.”
Lorenzo Fertitta on why they went with a licensing deal with FOX instead of their own channel.
“We looked at a number of different deals, different structures, different opportunities, one of which was the opportunity to joint venture or launch our own network,” Fertitta said. “At the end of the day, when we looked at everything that was on the table, it just felt that this license structure made a lot of sense with FOX.
“I think that a UFC channel would be very successful, but we sat down and kind of thought about it a little bit and said, ‘You know what we do best? We put on great fights, and we promote great fights. We’re not in the business of running a network.’ As far as the lifecycle of the company and where we’re at, it just made more sense to do this deal with FOX.”
Fox’s David Hill on advertiser support and the demographics the UFC brings to the table.
“We would not have gone into this deal if we hadn’t canvassed a large group of advertisers who are 100 percent behind it,” Hill said. “There might be one or two companies that have got a ‘do not buy.’ There is a hell of a lot more that have a ‘do buy’ on this sport.
“The importance of this deal is what it brings in the male demo, 18-to-34 (years old),” Hill said. “If you talk to any commissioner of any sport, the key thing that they’re concerned about are probably – with the exception of the National Football League right now, probably – looking at that young demo, it’s always wavering. They’re like fish. They’re there, and then they’re gone. Without that 18-to-34 demo, you are really a hostage, unfortunately, for the future for the sport because it’s that demo that grows the sport. They’re going to grow with it. They’re going to take their kids, teach them what the sport’s about. When you look at the figures that UFC is pulling, it’s huge. In terms of what this is and what this is going to do and what we’re going to do jointly between ourselves and the UFC, that’s what the exciting future is.”
“This is just the beginning.”
Dana White believes this deal is the pinnacle for the UFC in the United States.
“This was it for me, this is what I always wanted,” he said. “This is what I always felt was the pinnacle for us here in the United States. Not just to be on the No. 1 network in the country, but to be on a network with all the other real big sports: NFL, Major League Baseball, NASCAR, etc.”
“Not only weekly, but, potentially, multiple times per week you’ll have a UFC magazine (show).”
“I think their production is first class, and I doubt that there’s anything that we could bring. There will be discussions as the months and years go on about production, but I think they’re doing a fantastic job as it is,” said David Hill, FOX Sports Media Group Chairman.
Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta on the production.
“The production’s going to be done the same way it always has been,” said White. “Me and my crew will run the production, and FOX Sports will come in and we’re going to have a pre-show, a post-show, and they’ll bring in their guys the FOX guys for the pre and post show. The UFC’s going to run the production.”
“We’re going to sit down with the team at FOX and collaborate on things,” said co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta.
Dana White sees it as an opportunity for a fresh start.
“I look at this FOX deal as a fresh start for us so I want to change everything,” White stated. “I want to change the look of the pay-per-view, graphics, show open, the show opens in our ‘Fight Nights’, everything’s going to have a different feel to it. We’ll be working with these guys, I love what they do in sports, and to enhance the look and feel of a UFC event.”
Lorenzo Ferttita confirming Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan will provide the commentary for FOX and FX events.
“Obviously, Goldie and Rogan are going to be the main broadcast team for our big fights, pay-per-views, fights on Fox, fights on FX. Some additional programming, you know, were going to probably have to bring in some new talent because it’s just not physically possible for these guys to do that number of events and still have a life,” UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta told MMAWeekly.com. “So, yeah, we’re going to be adding new talent, whether it be on live fights, whether it’d be on magazine shows, whether it be on pre-shows, post-shows. And you’re really going to see, for the first time.”
The SBJ reporter who broke the story earlier this week is now hearing FOX will be paying the UFC around $100 million/year for the seven-year deal. It’s believed Spike was paying $35 million/year.