Fuel TV Planning UFC Marathon On New Years, Spike Eager to Monetize UFC Library

December 23, 2011

Fuel TV will officially kick off the new year by airing a 24-hour marathon of UFC programming on New Years Day, which will feature five show premieres. This will also officially kickoff the partnership between Fuel TV and the UFC, which Fuel claims will air more UFC programming than any network ever.

FUEL TV (http://www.fuel.tv), FOX Sports Media Group’s dynamic entertainment and sports network for males, officially kicks off the Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC®) on FUEL TV January 1 with a 24-hour marathon of UFC programming featuring five show premieres. In 2012, FUEL TV telecasts more than 2,000 hours of UFC programming, with more than 100 hours of live fights, weigh-ins, preliminary bouts, and pre- and post-fight shows. In the New Year, FUEL TV offers more UFC programming than any network has ever offered.

“We’re beyond excited for the monster launch of the UFC on FUEL TV and can’t wait for the ball to drop on New Year’s so we can finally unveil all this incredible programming,” says George Greenberg, FUEL TV Executive Vice President and General Manager. “On January 1, FUEL TV becomes the number-one television destination for UFC fans. We’re going to deliver amazing live fights, FOX-style pre- and post-fight shows with expert commentary, insightful news shows with exclusive material and powerful documentaries that followers of the UFC have never seen before.”

“We’re excited that FUEL TV will become the ultimate destination for UFC programming in 2012,” says Dana White, UFC President. “We knew when we made the partnership with the FOX Sports Media Group that FUEL TV would allow us to put on more programming than every other network. If you’re a fan of the UFC, you’ve got to have FUEL TV.”

In addition to five shows premiering on January 1, FUEL TV launches “UFC Tonight,” the official news and information show of the UFC hosted by Todd Harris, on Tuesday, January 3 at 10:00 PM ET. The first Live UFC Weigh-in (UFC RIO™: ALDO vs. MENDES) is Friday, January 13 at 1:00 PM ET, followed by the first Post-Fight Show on Saturday, January 14 at 1:00AM ET. FUEL TV features the first Preliminary Bouts for UFC® on FX: GUILLARD vs. MILLER on Friday, January 20 at 6:00 PM ET.

 LIVE UFC Programs on FUEL TV in January:

January 13, 1:00 PM ET
Live UFC Weigh-in: UFC RIO™: ALDO vs. MENDES
UFC’s biggest and baddest stars weigh-in and face-off live before a night of epic battles inside the Octagon.

January 14, 1:00 AM ET
UFC on FUEL TV: Post-Fight Show – UFC RIO™: ALDO vs. MENDES
Jay Glazer and today’s top MMA analysts recap the night’s bouts, serve up exclusive fighter interviews, and talk about ‘what’s next’ for the winners and losers after the big fight in this one-hour show.

 January 19, 5:00 PM ET
Live UFC Weigh-in: UFC® on FX: GUILLARD vs. MILLER
UFC’s biggest and baddest stars weigh-in and face-off Live before a night of epic battles inside the Octagon®.

January 20, 6:00 PM ET
UFC on FUEL TV: Preliminary Bouts – UFC® on FX: GUILLARD vs. MILLER
Witness the next generation of UFC stars rise as FUEL TV kicks off a night of unforgettable action, featuring three hours of MMA’s hungriest and most promising fighters. If you want to see the battles that make up-and-coming fighters into household names, you don’t want to miss the prelims on FUEL TV.

January 20, 11:00 PM ET
UFC on FUEL TV: Post-Fight Show – UFC® on FX: GUILLARD vs. MILLER

 January 27, 5:00 PM ET
Live UFC Weigh-in: UFC on FOX

January 28, 5:00 PM ET
UFC on FUEL TV: Preliminary Bouts – UFC on FOX

 January 28, 10:00 PM ET
UFC on FUEL TV: Post-Fight Show – UFC on FOX

January 31, 9:00 PM ET
Countdown to UFC® 143: DIAZ vs. CONDIT

NOTE: Fuel TV’s New Year UFC marathon will repeat the above mentioned programing (8 hours block) for the entire day.


Payout Perspective:

This will be a great way for Fuel TV to kickoff the New Years and celebrate the recently signed TV deal with the UFC. Fuel TV is a network who’s sole purpose is to draw young males by airing entertainment and sports programming geared towards that demographic.  A deal with the UFC stands to benefit Fuel TV greatly, as it hopes to increase it’s reach from the 36 million homes that was previously estimated before signing the TV deal with the UFC.  Since then, Dana White claims that the channel has increased it’s reach by 11% and that now 38 million homes have access to the channel. Yahoo Sports reports:

“I think that was part of Fox’s strategy in signing the UFC. They’ve gone up 11 percent since we signed the deal with Fox, and they’re in 38 million homes.”

While White is confident that more cable and satellite providers will add Fuel, it won’t hurt for fans to call and politely ask for it.

“I think it’s already happening. The announcements that we made have people [expletive] at their cable companies since we made the announcement.”

Besides being in about 62 million homes less than Spike TV, Fuel and FOX are banking on the UFC’s popularity and their hardcore loyal fanbase to make the switch from Spike and increase the channel’s reach and low ratings.  That task will not be an easy one in 2012, as Spike TV will still own the UFC’s library which prevents Fuel TV from airing any UFC programming that has already aired on Spike TV until the deal ends in 2013.  Even more daunting, Spike TV plans to use UFC programming to counter-program future UFC on FOX, FX, and Fuel TV events by featuring fighters that those platforms will already be promoting for those events. Spike retaining the UFC library throughout next year only makes it that much harder for Fuel TV gain traction with UFC fans, who most consider the UFC to be synonymous with Spike. Until the library rights are given back to the UFC, it will give a number of MMA fans many reasons to delay the inevitable transition to the FOX platforms to catch live UFC programming outside of PPV events.

Just last week, Spike TV announced “Ultimate Fridays”, which will feature the best of TUF to directly counter-program the new seasons of TUF on FX.  It also previously announced that they would counter-program UFC on FOX 2, which they also did for UFC on FOX: Velasquez vs Dos Santos – the UFC’s network debut on FOX. According to Spike, the programming they put around the FOX event on Spike TV did very well rating’s wise, averaging around 800k-900k viewers.

All things considered, business is business for the Viacom owned network. Spike TV President Kevin Kay said it best in a recent interview with Sherdog:

“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…That’s our job. Our job is to use this library and monetize it.”

13 Responses to “Fuel TV Planning UFC Marathon On New Years, Spike Eager to Monetize UFC Library”

  1. Jason Cruz on December 23rd, 2011 7:46 AM

    Great writeup Jose! I know what I’ll be doing Jan. 1. 🙂

  2. Machiel Van on December 23rd, 2011 8:23 AM

    I’m extremely skeptical about the potential success of FUEL. It’s just available in few homes, and tends to be buried in the channel lineups of the few services that do offer it. I think some hardcore fans might make the switch, but I just have to wonder how optimistic FOX really is that this strategy will work. It hurts them that Comcast isn’t on board; I wonder if the fact that Comcast owns NBC Universal is part of the reason that they don’t plan to offer FUEL TV, and if so this could lock out a large portion of potential viewers.

  3. joerogaine on December 23rd, 2011 11:47 AM

    its ironic i guess that by not being available to certain homes the fans will be forced to educate themselves on the streaming or torrenting process to watch the show.

    sure, most fans will just steam the shows they can’t get because of fuel, but at least some of the poorer fans will choose that over paying for a ppv after they are familiarized with the process. personally, i pay for shows, but i don’t get showtime for the strikeforce shows and i don’t like facebook so i stream those particular shows from the same sites that also stream the ppv events. most of us will do this with the fuel stuff too since we don’t have the channel, but its got to be a bad idea to expose potential ppv dollars to that possibility, because people are just trying to see their favorite sport, and if its unavailable they will always find a way.

    bad move me thinks.

  4. joerogaine on December 23rd, 2011 11:48 AM

    also, just discovered this mighty site. it is to my liking. good stuff man.

  5. 5 Oz. MMA Link Club : Five Ounces of Pain on December 23rd, 2011 1:16 PM

    […] Spike TV Looking to Monetize UFC Library (MMAPayout.com) […]

  6. Jose Mendoza on December 23rd, 2011 4:17 PM


    Welcome to the site! Glad to read you are liking it. We always welcome feedback and suggestions.

    I also agree with what you are saying. You will somewhat condition fans to enjoy MMA though other means, that or no one will care about all MMA programming since it’s not so easily accessible to them. Now, they could offer the fights on FB or on their website to not exclude fans, but then Fuel TV will lose out on exclusivity. Looks like they don’t have much of a choice here and fans will learn to find other ways or simply not care about watching all events, which is not a good thing either way.

    MV: I agree with you there. There is more at play here than what the UFC says i.e. “call your provider so they can add the channel… all it takes is a couple of requests sometimes”.

    Also, a majority of those that get the channel (38 million) don’t have the channel in HD. I believe DirecTV may be one of the very few providers that offers the feed. It’s not the most pleasent viewing experience aside from not being the easiest channel to find.

    Jason: Thanks! Yeah, you bet … and bowl games 🙂

  7. Assassin on December 24th, 2011 6:18 AM


    No bowl games January 1 this year. It’s an NFL Sunday (week 17), bowls games start on Monday January 2, 2012.

    I get Fuel, so I am happy.
    2012 will be a good year for MMA.

  8. Chris on December 24th, 2011 9:33 AM

    People need to realize the UFC is gonna build up Fuel.

    You think Spike was this huge network that was in 100 mill homes etc right away?

    UFC is gonna put programming on Fuel to get it into more homes and its already working.

    Word is its already in 11 percent more homes since the announcement and UFC hasnt even shown anything on Fuel.

    This is a 7 year deal, watch and see how many homes have Fuel in 2 to 3 years, I’d bet anything they are in double the homes or more.

    in 2/3 years I’d be shocked if they werent in the same amount of homes as Versus/MTV 2.

    I easily think they can get to 70 to 80 mill homes in a few years, thats what the UFC/Fox is banking on.

    Plus I’ve seen people say Comcast is gonna be adding Fuel in Jan/Feb to alot more homes, some Comcast areas have it, I live in NJ and dont but I’ve seen a few people say Comcast is adding Fuel to alot more homes next year, hope so.

    And man Spike tv are bitter, I wont be watching Spike anymore now that UFC is off it, I mean I get they need to use the library but the way they go about it is grimy.

    Rashad/Davis, Cain/jDS, they promote it like that fight is on Spike when its just old fights, then you see Sherdog interview the Spike guy and he says no its not about confusing people, sure it isnt.

    Atleast man up and admit it, thats exactly what they are trying to do and its pathetic.

    But they need to capitalize on it while they can cause once they lose the UFC nobody is gonna care about Spike anymore. Plus it just promotes the UFC on another network for another year so all they are doing is promoting the UFC even more.

    I wonder if Spike tried to give back the rights so they can move forward with Bellator and the UFC said no you keep the rights for the year to keep Bellator off Spike for 2012 and that pissed Spike off so they are doing this.

    Any word on if Spike wanted to get rid of the rights, sell them back to the UFC so they can move forward with Bellator? Having a year with Bellator to establish them would be good for Spike, instead they have to wait another year to do it. I’m sure they would rather be moving forward with Bellator but they cant and that probably pisses them off.

  9. Jared on December 25th, 2011 8:30 AM

    I live in the New Orleans area and subscribe to cox cable and do not have Fuel in HD. I have Fuel TV but no HD, which sucks. And yes, direct TV is the only carrier i know that carry Fuel in HD.

    I’ve been looking to switch from cox to ATT U Verse mainly because U Verse carries HD net. But i waiting to see which carrier picks up Fuel TV in HD first.

    I have been email Fuel TV, ATT u Verse, and Cox for the pass week or so about Fuel TV in HD but not one of them has yet to respond to my emails

  10. Jose Mendoza on December 26th, 2011 4:37 AM

    Got it! Thanks for the heads up.

    Thanks for that info. I have never heard of a carrier ever state that they will be picking up Fuel TV in HD, so keep us updated 🙂

    Only way UFC can get rights back is if they wanted them back, which means they would have to pay. As far as I’ve heard, Dana went out of his way to say that UFC content will be on Spike in 2012, so it APPEARS UFC may be doing it to keep Bellator off Spike until 2013 plus it gives it another platform to still keep pumping its programming, although it would be all repeats here.

    Also, the whole Fuel TV scenario you paint, where they will be in as many homes as Versus or Spike in 2/3 years is something I wouldn’t be counting on as of yet. It may change but nothing I have heard as of yet would indicate that.

  11. Sampson Simpson on December 28th, 2011 4:51 PM

    The UFC is in a very tough spot to be honest.

    4 FOX shows a year won’t turn the masses into hard-core fans. It’d take 4 epic “Fight of the Year” type of events each and everytime out to get the average person even semi-interested in the org.

    The counter to the 4 annual fox shows are the Fuel TV featured programs as the exposure will be minimal for the UFC fighters. Fox is using UFC to attempt to grow that channel and it’s an up-hill battle.

    FX compared to Spike is oranges to oranges as both have very similar accessibility in the US.

    From past contracts it seems as though FOX always retains the right to cut any low-performing entity at virtually anytime. If UFC ends up getting the boot 2 years down the road due to weak ratings… whatever MMA org that’s on Spike ala Bellator will be in prime position to become an equal player in the public’s eyes.

  12. The Fight Nerd | MMA Link Party – December 30, 2011 Edition on December 30th, 2011 3:06 AM

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  13. Paul Keller on December 31st, 2011 1:43 PM

    I like the access and the building of the sport

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