FX Looking for Sports Franchise, Could MMA Be the Answer?

July 6, 2009

TV by the Numbers takes a look at the problem faced by the FX Network:

FX Networks makes the point that if you took away the sports franchises from FX’s major competition (like TNT, TBS and USA), their overall 18-49 average would be within shouting range of FX’s territory. Only problem is that no major sports franchise is currently available, and even if one were FX might not be able to afford it. So, what’s the point again?

The FX Network execs had made comments to trade magazine Broadcasting and Cable about the conundrum they are facing:

“I’d love to have a major sports franchise,” Landgraf says. “It’s just a question of which one, and how do you make the economics work? If you look at FX versus TNT to date, we’re up 5%; they’re probably up 4% or 5%. But look at them without sports. Entertainment to entertainment, they’re down 7%; we’re up 5.”

“Look at their average number of adults 18-49 per hour in prime,” he continues. “We’re at about 750,000 on average year-to-date. We’ll finish the year in the 700s, just as we have the last three years. I can see with our current strategy being in the 800s at some point. TNT and USA are getting incremental 100,000 or 150,000 on average in prime out of sports. No channel is getting anywhere near 1 million adults 18-49, 21 hours a week, 365 days a year, without sports. It’s not going to happen.”

Right now, FX has no plans underway to acquire a major sports property. If one becomes available, the question for the network is whether it can acquire sports in a way that would be profitable, according to Landgraf. “

So the FX execs are basically saying we need a sports franchise, that will boost our 18-49 numbers, that we can attain at a cost that will make it profitable? If you are reading this site, then the answer probably smacks you in the face like an old school Mark Coleman headbutt….. MMA. The UFC isn’t an option, but there are other low cost options that FX could take a flyer on and possibly hit the jackpot like Spike did with TUF. Taking a MMA franchise and building it up would be a more cost effective mode than paying high end dollars to attain one of the stick and ball sports, or NASCAR. Here are some of the options available and what the pluses and minuses might be:

Strikeforce-This might be a bit of a log shot. With a Showtime contract and a possible CBS card in the offing as well as keeping an eye towards possible PPV in the future, adding another TV partner would strain a roster and company infrastructure to support those multiple outlets. A schedule to meet the demands of that many outlets would seem almost untenable out this point for Strikefiorce.

Bellator– Bellator has been aiming for a ESPN tie-in, but this would be a good fallback position for the company. Bellator would be attractive in that they offer a strip of programming. They air could offer 12 to 13 week strips of programming back to back, either live or on a one day delay. That constancy would be attractive for FX looking to build a brand. Bellator would be the best option for FX in my estimation.

WEC – if the UFC are looking to upgrade their clearance of the WEC in the future, FX would be a vehicle for doing so. FX has clearance in just over 90 homes while Versus clocks in at just a tad under 75 million homes, according to recent figures. WEC would also be able to enjoy much better lead-ins for their programming, as FX is a stronger performer among cable outlets than Versus.

One Response to “FX Looking for Sports Franchise, Could MMA Be the Answer?”

  1. Robert Joyner on December 3rd, 2010 10:54 AM

    This guy is pretty smart…lol

Got something to say?

You must be logged in to post a comment.