Ion television to show UFC 125 prelims

December 28, 2010

MMA Junkie reports that Ion television will host the UFC 125 prelims on January 1st.  Earlier in the day, it was reported that there would be no UFC prelims on Spike TV or streamed online. Thus, many believed that the UFC would not air prelims this Saturday.

Via MMA Junkie:

Ion Television, which was launched in 1998 as PAX TV, was rebranded as Ion Television in 2007. The channel was also known as i from 2005 to 2007. According to White, Ion Television is currently available in more than 100 million homes. The UFC boss said he valued the opportunity to bring three highly demanded fights to the masses, especially as fans continually hammer him to make up for some widely criticized previous contests.

White indicated that he would air three prelim matches instead of the usual two. The scheduled prelim matches to air include Baroni-Tavares, Davis-Stephens and Grispi-Poirier. Fans began a twitter campaign to get the Baroni-Tavares match aired and it appears that White listened.

Payout Perspective:

Great news for UFC fans. Not only do viewers get to see the UFC Prelims, it is a sign that there are network partners out there willing to air the UFC. In the report, White toyed with the idea that the Ion relationship could be more than just a one time thing.

Initially, I thought that January 1 would be a sports-heavy day (bowl games, NHL’s Winter Classic) that not airing prelims was a choice. But, it was likely that the UFC wanted to air more fights but did not have the time slot for it. This is a solid card and it would be disappointing not to get some of the prelims on air. In addition to Josh Grispi, hopefully we get to see Mike Brown and Antonio McKee.

19 Responses to “Ion television to show UFC 125 prelims”

  1. Adam Swift on December 28th, 2010 5:06 AM

    This move makes a lot of sense when you consider two things: 1)the Spike deal expires after next year, 2)it is cable exclusive (save for the 4 event carve out that enabled the VS deal). My guess is that Spike may only be interested in airing the prelims this year as part of a comprehensive renewal beyond 2011.

    The prelim broadcasts mean a lot more to the UFC (and there PPV biz) than they do to Spike.

  2. Diego on December 28th, 2010 6:40 AM

    I hadn’t heard of Ion before reading the Junkie piece. Does their programming reach the UFC demos? I’m happy to see the UFC on network TV, but this isn’t the network I was hoping for.

    I’m surprised that Spike didn’t step up and ask to be allowed to air the Prelims. I wonder if that was a choice by the UFC to expand their options (smart) or Spike didn’t give them the time slot because they were showing another episode of Manswers (dumb).

    It will be interesting to see what kind of ratings they get. On Spike they get a lot of casual fans and channel surfers. Spike programming is also geared towards the 18-34 demo, so advertising during episodes of Unleashed hits potential viewers. I’m not sure those casual fans and channel surfers will tune in to Ion, or if there is programming for the UFC to advertise on, but I don’t know anything about that network.

  3. Diego on December 28th, 2010 6:45 AM

    Just looked at Iontelevision.com. I’m seeing a lot of episodes of “Ghost Whisperer” and “Without a Trace” in the days leading up to the Prelims, and the show just before the Prelims is “Timecop”. I think only the hardcore fans will be tuning in.

  4. jv on December 28th, 2010 7:55 AM

    I find it interesting that the UFC can just put programming on another station but Versus and Spike don’t say any thing. Spike more than any one should be pissed. At one time they were the exclusive home of UFC outside of PPV. Now they are just one of many.

  5. Kelsey Philpott on December 28th, 2010 10:52 AM

    Solid input from Swifty as usual.

    I’m not a huge fan of the Ion Network idea. I’d have rather seen the UFC go the online broadcast route similar to what they did at 124. Ion looks a little cheap, and as others have pointed out, the network has yet to get the UFC’s full name right. However, it could be that they didn’t generate the number of viewers they would have liked online and want to test the waters with Ion (and as Adam suggests, it’s outside of the cable exclusivity Spike demands, so it works).

  6. Stan on December 28th, 2010 11:41 AM

    I think there will be interesting moves like this throughout the year from both Spike and Zuffa why they attempt to redo a deal. If it’s clear that Spike won’t be getting a good re-up with them, I could see UFC programming on there severely limited last 1/2 and especially last quarter of 2011.

    jv,

    All that stuff is negotiated, Spike agreed to any clauses that is allowing UFC to air other places, I’m sure UFC gave some concessions with this deal as well.

  7. Diego on December 28th, 2010 3:33 PM

    Just found out from Josh Gross’ twitter that Ion is the lowest rated network in the US. I like this move less and less and I’m starting to wonder at the real motives behind it.

    Is Dana trying to put pressure on Spike and Versus? If the ratings are low, it’s Spike that will have the upper hand. They will be able to point to how much more successful UFC shows are on their channel.

    Is this just a toe in the water for the UFC? I don’t see that they need to do it. Everyone knows about the UFC brand, and none of the big networks are going to take this move seriously – “You mean if I don’t agree to Zuffa’s demands they will just take their product to Ion? I guess I’d better play ball.” If Zuffa want a network deal they can jump in with both feet.

  8. mmaguru on December 28th, 2010 7:44 PM

    Ion TV? Honestly never heard of the channel before.

  9. mmaguru on December 28th, 2010 7:45 PM

    3 prelims is definitely a stop up. Seemed to be a lot of dead air time when they go with the 2 prelim fights.

  10. Steve on December 29th, 2010 7:42 AM

    Ion has a history with MMA.

    Bodog Fight flopped miserably on the network back in 2007.

  11. Steve on December 29th, 2010 7:46 AM

    If nothing else, Ion’s past experience with Bodog will give them a benchmark to measure the UFC against.

  12. jv on December 29th, 2010 8:13 AM

    To be fair the fact that they are prelim fights doesn’t give you much pull. None of the major networks would even pick up your phone call for prelim fights.

    For Ion this has probably already worked out for them. They probably had more people scrambling to find out who they are, where they are shown and what is on the schedule yesterday than at any time since their launch.

  13. Steve on December 29th, 2010 8:53 AM

    Agreed.

    Problem is, none of those people are going to stick around. I was one of the handful of people who watched Bodog on the network, and I can honestly say I never watched one minute of the network’s other offerings. Saturday will be the first time I have watched the channel since Bodog went belly up.

    Ion is kind of like MyNetworkTV. I watched that channel when they had MMA programming, but I haven’t spent one minute there since the IFL’s demise.

  14. Stan on December 29th, 2010 12:13 PM

    I imagine this won’t get spectacular ratings, but they announced it about 5 days before they were going to be on and this will likely be one of their lowest buy rate cards in awhile. It’s a good foot in the water for UFC and “network” TV, even though it’s the lowest rated network. You have different advertisers, and the FCC to deal with on Network tv, that’s something the UFC hasn’t had to deal with at all. Likely won’t be a problem, but they’ll get to retain control of their production and see if they can strike some gold with it.

  15. jv on December 29th, 2010 3:42 PM

    There is also the fact that the buy price is probably cheap. This is after all mostly a commercial for the PPV to follow. If your not getting cut a deal by your usual partner then might as well go for the cheapest channel around. Buy the block and then sell it to UFC advertisers. Every body earns and you still get an hour of Goldy yammering on about “And don’t forget right after this broadcast …”

  16. Steve on December 29th, 2010 6:02 PM

    I seriously doubt the Ion deal is a time buy.

    They wouldn’t pay just to show prelims. If they were paying for the time, they would put it to better use.

  17. jv on December 29th, 2010 8:36 PM

    Just read Dana’s bitch about the customers. Must have missed that part of business class. But here is what he is missing. If it is on a UHF channel then rabbit ears won’t do shit. You need a UHF antenna. If it is digital then you also need a converter box or a digital tuner. People doing OTA know this and have the gear. People that have just been doing satellite and cable probably don’t know that and probably won’t have the gear on hand. If Dana is gonna bitch out the customers he could at least have his info correct first.

    http://mmajunkie.com/news/21893/dana-white-defends-ufcs-ion-television-deal-says-future-plans-uncertain.mma

  18. Brain Smasher on December 29th, 2010 9:15 PM

    Maybe they used a dull netowrk that shows dull programs hoping the viewers will get hooked on Dull Gray Maynard. lol

    To be honest this is a good move for the UFC. If they are not getting views on UFC.com then why not do this? More eyes on the fighters and different eyes at that. It only increases the chances of creating fans and getting the fighters names out there. Add to that Ion will get great rating relative to their normal ratings and the UFC will actually get paid for the prelims rather than lose money by showing them on UFC.com. Now if this was a big event it may be better for business to attract traffic to UFC .com BUt with this piss poor card you take the money, fan convience, demo and viewers that Ion offers.

    Ion is not a bad channel. Just not a good one. It has lacked funding and creativity. This is a step in that direction. I dont expect the 1 million viewers that Prelims get on spike. But Ion will get 500-600K which can really go along way. Just for the fact people are hearing of Ion for the first time shows Ion is already getting their monies worth.

  19. Eli on January 2nd, 2011 12:48 PM

    Dana gave free fights to the fans, and they complain and grumble. Go online, find out where Ion shows on your local station, and watch some free fights.

    Oh, and you’re welcome.

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