13 for 13: No. 2 UFC moves to Fox Sports 1

December 31, 2013

The UFC-Fox relationship entered into a new venture as Fox unveiled two new sports networks: Fox Sports 1 (FS1) and Fox Sports 2 (FS2).  The UFC was pegged to play a big role in providing the networks, especially FS1 with its content.

So far, the network has not lived up to its lofty expectations, but the UFC is a central piece to the FS1 programming grid.

The network almost stalled from the beginning as distributors balked at the carriage fees for FS1.  DirecTV, Dish and Time Warner Cable held out from carrying the new sports networks.  The three distributors combined for about 46 million households.  Fox had promised its investors that FS1 would reach 90 million households.  Without the three holdouts, it would have only half of its promised households.

The pre-FS1 carriage fee was 31 cents a month per subscriber whereas FS1 wanting 80 cents per month in 2014 which could go as high as $1.50 per subscriber based on fee increases during the life of the deal.  In the end Fox conceded the fee increase (for now) with the distributors in order for its intended launch of August 17th.

The first day of the new FS1 network received outstanding ratings marked by UFC Fight Night 26 from Boston which grabbed 1.78 million viewers.   It was a surprise considering the leveled expectations that it may take some time for people to get acclimated with the new network.  Well, that happened.  Since the first night of ratings, FS1 ratings have not been going as expected.

The UFC programming has not seen the numbers of UFC FN 26 (although this past Saturday’s Prelims did very well).  The Ultimate Fighter: Tate vs. Rousey which featured men and women fighters was supposed to draw viewers back to the fledgling franchise.  While there were spikes for the women fights, overall, the ratings were lukewarm (averaging 648K viewers for the season) and showed a 22 percent drop when moving to FS1.  In fact, it was reported that Fox execs would look at the MMA reality show differently.  Rather than look at the live viewership ratings, it would look at the “overall consumption” of the show which would include DVR and reruns to access the success of the show.  Certainly, the time slot of 7pm on the west coast (without a same night rerun) hurt same day viewership although there was an increase in DVR numbers.

Fox also issued “make goods” for advertisers paying for time on FS1 due to ratings shortfalls.  Some advertisers received ad times carved out during the World Series on Fox.  There was also discussion that “early pre-game” inventory for the Super Bowl would be offered.

UFC Fight Nights on FS1 and FS2

UFC Fight Night 26:  1.78 million viewers

UFC Fight Night 27:  824,000 viewers

UFC Fight Night 28:  539,000 viewers

UFC Fight Night 29:  638,000 viewers

UFC Fight Night 30: 122,000 viewers (FS2)

UFC Fight Night 31:  641,000 viewers

UFC Fight Night 32:  722,000 viewers

TUF 18 Finale: 1,129,000 viewers

UFC Fight Night 33: 755,000 viewers

UFC Fight Night 33 Prelims: 132,000 (FS2)

Despite the ratings disappointment, analysts and advertisers are still giving the networks a chance.  There is still room for improvement and the belief that the networks, especially FS1, will keep growing an audience.

Via Sports Media Journal

Via Sports Media Journal

15 Responses to “13 for 13: No. 2 UFC moves to Fox Sports 1”

  1. BrainSmasher on January 1st, 2014 1:08 AM

    Something I think has hurt Fox Sports 1 and is going to make it harder for them to get to where they expect to be. Is all the regional Fox Sports channels that have been around for a very long time. Creating a national FS1 just adds to the confusion. People are used to their local Fox Sports, Fox, FX, etc. Direct TV customers who have ever had a sports package have been used to getting 30-60 local Fox sports channels for every major city or state. Fox sports Ohio, Chicago, etc. Not only does the Fox Sports name create some confusion. It also may have a bit of a stigma attached to it. One of the problems the UFC ran into when it worked with Best damn Sports Show Period on Fox Sports. Is it was hard to judge the ratings they got because it wasn’t shown in every city at the same time. So when fans went to their local fox sports network. They would be hours behind everyone else. Some would air the next day if their area aired it at all. So this type of thing was normal for Fox Sports with all their programs. Im sure leaving a bad taste in customers mouth. Fox Sports Net because of these has always had a second rate feel but it is also due to their showing of regional sports and high school games. So even though FS1 is a national network. The name Fox Sports could be holding it back or slowing it down. I was never happy with the name they chose to use for the network.

  2. dfdfdfdf on January 1st, 2014 7:18 AM

    This has been a complete failure… FS1 and FS2 were being hyped as a competitor to ESPN when they came out and it is only a matter of time before this channel gets canned…

    UFC hasn’t been performing in the ratings to its prior numbers…. If it was performing it wouldn’t have been moved from FX to FS1…Fox cards are only getting 2.5-3.5 million viewers…

    This channel is going to get canned and the UFC will try to find a way out of its contract… or FOX is going to dump the UFC…..

    Dana has started kissing up to ESPN so he can save face when this cr*p gets canned on FOX….

  3. dfdfdfdf on January 1st, 2014 7:22 AM

    Zuffa completely drop the ball on TUF on FX….

    Zuffa should have used TUF to bring more mainstream fans to see UFC instead of alienating them…

  4. Chris27 on January 1st, 2014 8:12 AM

    Looks like the new has worn off.

    So much for FS1 taking down ESPN, that’s never gonna happen.

  5. AK on January 1st, 2014 1:46 PM

    df, how did they “drop the ball on TUF on FX”?? Miiiind-boggling low pay aside (which I can’t imagine it helping attract any legit talent), it’s a played out format that is pretty damn boring (no joke — I found the Bollinger and Gutierrez episodes the most entertaining by FAR this past season). They’re just milking it for all its worth and I imagine TUF to be a very, very profitable endeavor for Fox/Zuffa. They prolly still get dollars to the penny for the show. Think about it… they just pay the coaches whatever, pay the crew, and that’s it. Aaaall profit from there.

    On a different note, the article alludes to the great prelim numbers on Saturday without actually mentioning the number. It was around 1.56M.

  6. AK on January 1st, 2014 2:01 PM

    Also, let’s not forget that the TUF finale was one of the highest rated FS1 shows to date after an absolute crap, CRAP season. I still can’t get my head around it — that’s like a 35% jump from Vitor-Hendo. For shame, peoples…

  7. dfdfdfdf on January 1st, 2014 3:19 PM

    UFC should have used TUF to draw in more mainstream fans and get them into MMA…

    Instead UFC used TUF and catered it to the hardcore fans, that will watch the UFC no matter what…

    TUF is a REALITY show and it was on FX, a more mainstream premium channel. NOT a sports chanel and not UFC tv…

    Zuffa should have embraced that reality aspect of it… Zuffa should have gotten a celebrity host for the show; like season 1.

    Zuffa should have kept the elimination challenges for control of the fight picks……

    Zuffa should have worked to find the best and most interesting fighters..[not ben askren, jon fitch, but more of griffins, florian, sanchez.].

    Zuffa should have added more drama into it. Let the fight in house go out if they want to.. Add more about the fighters personal lives [gf issues]..let the gfs, baby mamas on the show….

    Get the mainstream, casual, uneducated fans and turn them into hardcore fans.

    Zuffa should have focused on getting ratings no matter what
    Instead,Zuffa focused on pushing itself as a legitimate sport on a REALITY show and missed a big opportunity to grow the sport.

  8. AK on January 1st, 2014 3:36 PM

    Great points, I agree. Especially the part about the coaches challenges. The Contender was actually a great show. But what “celebrity host” are you talking bout?

  9. AK on January 1st, 2014 3:41 PM

    And yea, the one-strike policy on in-house fighting is something I have vehemently, VEHEMENTLY disagreed with. I sooorta get the logic behind it (ie. not perpetuating MMA-barbarian stereotypes), but it does a LOT more harm than good.

  10. dfdfdfdf on January 1st, 2014 4:30 PM

    not coaches challenges… Elimination challenges… watch season 1… they had elimination challenge in season 1…. They had Willa Ford hosting Season 1….

    Zuffa was just trying to get anyone and everyone to watch TUF when they did season 1..

  11. AK on January 1st, 2014 5:25 PM

    No, I know… I misspoke. I had to look up who Willa Ford is, and don’t remember her at ALL, so I don’t know if you can exactly label her a “celebrity,” but your point stands. Someone like The Rock or Hugh Jackman woulda been great.

  12. BrainSmasher on January 1st, 2014 5:37 PM

    The Contender was trash. Exactly what was good about it? Edited fights? Sound effects to punches? music during the fight? The over played family drama that dragged on? The Contender was created to attempt to draw men and woman. It failed. It geared itself way to far towards woman and alienated the men/boxing fans. It was a disaster!

    Some of the points I somewhat agree with. The fighting in the TUF house. When TUF was created there was no MMA on TV. There wasn’t much of a sport and it was about to die. Not only would the guys fighting like thugs have caused harm to the sport that could never have been repaired. It may have killed any chance of being picked up by any network. The UFC still didn’t have a tv deal. As we have seen. The UFC protecting the “integrity” of the sport has worked out well for them. They have always protected it and this isn’t the only example.
    That said. I do believe they are at a point where the sport is pretty much not going anywhere and is established as a legit sport. Not cracking down on fights in the house isn’t going to have any effect. The only problem is how do you change policy without looking like you are asking for it? Which can really make the sport look bad. If Dana comes out and says they are allowed to fight or there is no penalty. Then he is encouraging it. That cant happen. Its one thing is young reality show kids get in a fight. Its another if the UFC comes out and encourages it. They DOES reflect on the UFC and the sport. So it is kind of hard to change now. Then you have issues with the show. IF guys get in a fight. As we all know who watch fighting. With no gloves and concrete. Cuts are 100% going to happen. IF you let people fight. You run a very high risk of someone getting hurt or cut and not being cleared to compete in the shows fights. So it could derail the entire show. Not to mention the fact with so many guys with no supervisions and alcohol. There is a good chance we don’t see a one on one fight on the house. It could very well turn into a beating where a few guys beat the hell out of one person. Currently due to the rules. Everyone tries to defuse the fight rather than jump in. It would be interesting to see a scuffle or two in the house. BUt it simply isn’t worth it for the UFC, the Sport, or TUF to go down that road.

    As for moving from FX. DFDFDFDF, you have no clue if they even had an option in the matter. So claiming they did this or that when it was more than likely a FOX decision is silly. I agree this TUF being on FX would have been huge and very successful. But I am sure they didn’t choose to take TUF and throw it on a new network.

  13. BrainSmasher on January 1st, 2014 5:39 PM

    They also had Mike Rowe from “Dirty Jobs” as the narrator.

  14. dfdfdfdf on January 2nd, 2014 6:29 AM

    No… I’m talking about TUF from Spike to FX… TUF had a chance to get 3 -4 Millions if the UFC did right… instead TUF on FX was cr*p…

  15. AK on January 2nd, 2014 1:42 PM

    Yes, I thought The Contender was greatly produced. And I didn’t mind the edited fights for dramatized effect — music makes everything better.

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