Control a big issue in UFC-Fox deal

March 21, 2012

The Sports Business Daily/Journal had a brief article on the UFC-Fox deal in which both sides indicated that control and opportunity were big issues in the monumental deal for Zuffa.

The article states that control was a big part of Zuffa choosing Fox. Zuffa still controls production of its shows although it takes suggestions from Fox.  Overall, Fox was fine with allowing Zuffa to continue with producing its shows.


Fox was OK with letting UFC control production, Eric Shanks, president and COO of Fox Sports.  “You wouldn’t have given up control if you don’t trust the guys,” Shanks said. “You want the authenticity that made the sport what it is. Part of what made it authentic was the production.

Still, Zuffa has worked with Fox in addressing some of its concerns.  We’ve seen the elimination of weapon sponsors, cleaning blood off of the mat, toning down some of the content and shortening fighter entrances with the UFC’s switch to Fox.

In addition, Zuffa was interested in the fact that Fox had so many platforms to promote the UFC.  This factor outweighed other opportunities with HBO or purchasing and rebranding the G4 network.

Payout Perspective:

It’s obvious that control is a big factor for Zuffa.  You need only look to the company’s dealings with Showtime to recognize that Zuffa is very protective of its brand and the way it does things.  You may recall that Showtime execs didn’t agree to some of the suggested changes Dana White had for Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Tate, which angered White to the extent that he’s hands off of Strikeforce.

As for the changes so far, the blood on the mat and weapon brand ban are things that relate to Fox’s overall standards and practices.  The issue with the blood has to do with the perception of the sport and the fact that it is still introducing it to the masses.  As Shanks was quoted, ““I don’t want it to look like someone just sacrificed a goat before Fox comes on the air.”

An interesting takeaway from the article is how shortening up the fighter entrances might indirectly hurt sponsors and the sponsorship of fighters.  With shorter appearances on the camera, it may hurt the sponsorship value of a patch, t-shirt or hat of sponsor.  It will make sponsors and agents think of other ways to get its brands on camera.

3 Responses to “Control a big issue in UFC-Fox deal”

  1. Diego on March 22nd, 2012 8:30 AM

    Interesting dichotomy to shortening walkouts for network events: on the one hand, viewership is much higher than for PPVs so fighter sponsors get more views, on the other hand those views are for a shorter period of time.

    If I’m a sponsor it’s probably still worth more to me to have my logo be part of a network show than a PPV as long as the banner gets shown before the fight, and the shirt gets shown after. I imagine fighter comp reflects that.

  2. Sampson Simpson on March 23rd, 2012 3:33 PM

    I will be very surprised if the UFC is on FOX in 2014.

  3. terrencefromsoutheast on March 25th, 2012 5:44 PM

    Joe Rogen won’t make it through the whole 7 years of the deal.

Got something to say?

You must be logged in to post a comment.