Not that it matters anymore since the UFC’s relationship with Spike TV is basically over, but many people have wondered over the years why Spike TV always insisted on broadcasting overseas UFC events at night on tape-delay instead of live in the afternoon.
Well, in an interview with Sherdog, Spike TV president Kevin Kay explained that the answer is really simple. It’s all a matter of $$$.
By the way, people always criticize us and say, like, “Well, why doesn’t Spike do them live, if they be at two o’clock in the afternoon or three o’clock in the morning? The real reason we didn’t do them live is because we couldn’t sell advertising at those times. We pay a lot of money for the product. We need to monetize it and make our money back, and, so, putting a fight on at 10 o’clock in the morning on Spike when we don’t get decent advertising rates … it’s is an advertising issue, just to clear that up, because I‘ve heard that many times.
Not surprisingly, their decision to counterprogram UFC on FOX 1 “Velasquez vs. Dos Santos” with “Dos Santos vs. Velasquez: Unleashed for the Heavyweight Title” , or as Kay explains it, ride on the coattails of the UFC’s first FOX broadcast, was also about money.
The deal [is] there’s a tail-end year of the library, and we pay for it. And we pay a good price for it. So we have to use it, and we’d be foolish not to use it. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t schedule it. And I think, look, as a guy that’s scheduled television shows and has the library to use, we’re going to take advantage of the fact that Fox and FX are going to be out there promoting guys who we have in the library. It’s like free marketing, and we’d be silly not to take advantage of that. That’s our job. Our job is to use this library and monetize it. If the shoe were on the other foot, I can guarantee you Dana White would do what we’re doing.
We weren’t hoping to confuse anybody, but we purposely titled it “Unleashed: For the Heavyweight Title,” because “Unleashed” said to our fans who watched us loyally for six years now — they know “Unleashed” means taped. That’s the title of the taped library show, so we weren’t trying to confuse anybody. But what we did do is take advantage of the fact that Fox was promoting the hell out of Junior and Cain for months it seemed like, on the NFL and every place else that they were promoting it, putting a lot of muscle behind it. And we believed that people would watch. And actually, if you look at the ratings, before the fight [on Fox], we were up to 900,000 viewers; during the fight, we went down to 700,000 viewers; and after the fight, we went back up to 900,000 viewers. I think people wanted to see more Junior and Cain. From us, it’s just a programming move; that’s what it is. It’s a programming move, and it paid off. Those were pretty high “Unleashed” ratings these days. And you know, again, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t make those moves.
Both the Dana White and Kevin Kay maintain that the UFC and Spike executives still have great relationships despite the split, but at the end of day it really does come down to business and money and both are going to do what’s best for theirs regardless of how mean-spirited it might seem at the time. To be clear though, Kay does genuinely hope that the UFC continues to grow, because if they don’t, then no one else in the industry will including Bellator which they now have a vested interest in making a success.