With Fox deal ending, could Showtime be a landing place for UFC?

September 11, 2017

MMA Fighting reports that Showtime is interested in jumping back into partnership with the UFC once the company’s current rights fee is up.

In an interview last week with MMA Fighting, Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza stated that it would reach out to the UFC about being one of its broadcast partners.  Of course, since its likely that the UFC will have events on multiple platforms and multiple networks, Showtime’s concern would be what level of events it would receive for the network.

And, of course, how much it would need to pay.

Showtime worked with Zuffa in brokering a deal for the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight last month.  It appeared that there the working relationship went fairly well as the two sides were able to put together the deal in a relatively short time span.  Compare that to the Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight in May 2015 which seemed to have taken several years to put together.

Payout Perspective:

There are obvious details that would have to be hammered out aside from the financials.  Dana White had issues with Showtime and its production of Strikeforce once Zuffa took over.  Whether or not White has softened his stance on Showtime based on his dealings with The Money Fight is yet to be seen.  Of course, with the new ownership, we can see if WME-IMG is willing to work with Showtime.  Then again, this upcoming rights deal will be something the company expects to be lucrative and whether Showtime is willing to pay for it is something to be seen.  I would expect other bidders competing including Fox (which ended or is at the end of an exclusive negotiating window), Turner Sports, NBC Universal and Amazon.

14 Responses to “With Fox deal ending, could Showtime be a landing place for UFC?”

  1. ufc fan on September 11th, 2017 10:14 AM

    This would be amazing for the UFC. Next we need to ditch Reebok for Nike. Showtime/Nike would be a good look for the UFC, Much more fan orientated than FOX/Reebok.

  2. Wil on September 12th, 2017 7:11 PM

    a network with access to basic cable or network would be better, a move to premium cable really spells trouble for the UFC…that all but guarantees Bellator gets more viewers

  3. Diego on September 13th, 2017 4:47 AM

    Wil – it could give them access to CBS (I think that’s who owns Showtime). I agree that a move to Showtime only, when they used to run cards on Fox, FX and FS1 & 2 seems like a step back for the sport regardless of how the UFC are compensated.

  4. d on September 13th, 2017 7:06 AM

    This wasn’t about an exclusive deal. Showtime could never afford that. It would require several hundred million and considering what their budget for boxing is, which is around 45m annually, it would be difficult to see them willing to handle exclusivity even with owning publishing rights.

    Clearly the UFC is looking to get multiple outlets involved which is what the article was stating. The only way they go exclusive is if someone blows them away with a massive deal.

    This does go to show you the writing is on the wall that premium channels like HBO and Showtime are probably going to start shifting towards mma more so in the future because of the ratings, especially the key demo.

  5. Reece on September 14th, 2017 8:50 AM

    Showtime already had MMA when Strikeforce was at its peak and the ratings weren’t very impressive. HBO boxing ratings have always been very strong in key demos, although declining recently with budget cuts. Non-ppv quality fights would not do any better than boxing. With Game of Thrones ending and Top Rank leaving maybe HBO might buy a few UFC fights but I suspect they would rather spend more miner on original scripted programming than one sided, low rated Demetrius Johnson fights.
    Showtime didn’t move away from boxing when they had the #2 MMA promotion and only minor boxing promoters like Gary Shaw and Goosen-Tutor I don’t see why they would do it now.

  6. Wil on September 14th, 2017 8:07 PM

    Strikeforce was the pinnacle of mma for me, that was an outstanding outfit with great fights and the guys and girls took their fights very seriously. That was my favorite mma promotion ever.

  7. d on September 15th, 2017 11:13 AM

    Strikeforce was a B promotion and to compare that to the UFC is laughable.

    HBO boxing ratings are horrendous and at an all time low. They’ve slashed their annual budget to literally only 25m per year and their future looks bleak.

    UFC fights would destroy boxing ratings on HBO. MMA ratings across the board are better than boxing’s especially in the key demo.

    The writing is on the wall for premium channels. They realize the present and future is mma which comprises of a far bigger fan base than boxing and better ratings without question. It’s just a matter of time where they have to concede and accept the truth. Showtime would be better off getting Bellator on their channel than continuing with Showtime boxing.

  8. Reece on September 15th, 2017 12:59 PM

    Key demos don’t really matter on premium cable . They’re not trying to sell Slim Jim and Burger King commercials.

    If the UFC was on Showtime they wouldn’t be putting their best fights on there. UFC’s b-level is basically equivalent to Strikeforce’s A-level so it’s a fair comparison to make. Even with big names like Rousey, Tate, Cyborg, Fedor, Ovareem, etc. they only had about half a dozen shows which averaged over 500k viewers.

    Bellator is a joke. They only do one show a year that does over 1 million viewers and it’s always a freak show that doesn’t live up to the many months worth of build up and hype. Every other show does well below the Showtime boxing average and Spike is a much bigger network. Showtime still has plenty of big names that can draw 800k+ viewers (Mikey Garcia, Broner, Wilder, Danny Garcia, Thurman), Bellator only has former UFC guys way past their prime in their late 30s and 40s that can do those numbers.

  9. d on September 15th, 2017 6:25 PM

    The UFC’s B fights are better than boxing’s A fights from a ratings perspective. This has been proven time and time again. Strikeforce’s A fights weren’t even close either, you are just making things up as you go along and it is a ridiculous comparison. You aren’t factoring in the brand name. UFC B fights would low end at 1m avg viewers on Showtime every night.

    Bellator gets better ratings than PBC did on Spike easily even with lower profile fight cards which is why they gave PBC the boot. They also do more than 1 show per year that goes over 1m avg viewers. They typically have multiple. Every other show also does not go below the Showtime boxing avg. There are a number of Showtime boxing ratings that shit the bed, most do overall. Only the big fights put up solid ratings and nowadays they rarely break 1m avg viewers. Bellator can do over 800k viewers with non UFC has beens. It isn’t uncommon. What’s also amusing is watching those joke fights you refer to demolish Top Rank stars like Lomachenko and Crawford. Haha.

    The whole Spike is a bigger network is ridiculous because premium boxing often outdraws ESPN, Spike, FS1 boxing with bigger names.

    Boxing fans get more and more desperate.

  10. Reece on September 16th, 2017 12:40 AM

    The only Bellator fight I could find doing 1 million in the past 12 months was Ortiz-Sonnen. Only one other fight came close and it was Rampage-King Mo II. Bellator NYC prelims also did about 900k but was on multiple networks. Occasionally a Ben Henderson card might get 700k but homegrown Bellator talent usually does in the 400 and 500k’s. Bellator is nothing without washed up UFC guys.

  11. d on September 16th, 2017 7:56 AM

    Bellator 170 1.4m avg viewers
    Bellator 175 1m avg viewers

    Bellator 179 likely would have done 1m, but it was in the UK on tape delay

    “but homegrown Bellator talent usually does in the 400 and 500k’s. ”

    This is completely false. They typically do around 700-800k for good non UFC wash up headliners and the no name headliners usually do around 500k. With the UFC has beens they can do massive numbers around 1.5 to over 2m avg viewers. That’s far better than anything Showtime boxing does.

  12. d on September 16th, 2017 8:13 AM

    This just gives you an idea of how poor Showtime’s ratings have been in the past few years:

    “Showtime Boxing’s feature fight between Mikey Garcia and Adrian Broner drew 881,000 network subscribers Saturday night per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily. It was the highest-rated fight since Deontay Wilder faced Bermane Stiverne on Showtime……
    The Wilder-Stiverne fight in January 2015 drew 1.24 million viewers on Showtime.
    Broner continues to be a Showtime draw. His last fight in February against Adrian Granados drew 779,000 viewers. ”

    This just shows you in a roughly 20 month span the highest tv ratings Showtime boxing had was 880k avg viewers. Bellator’s ratings are arguably better.

  13. Reece on September 17th, 2017 3:31 AM

    881 k is huge for Showtime, considering they’ve been hemorrhaging cable subscribers. Most of their top shows are down over 20% from last year. It’s very rare to even see a Showtime program listed in Showbuzzdaily’s Top 150.

  14. d on September 17th, 2017 7:55 AM

    Haha. Yeah, because their boxing ratings currently suck. Go back years ago and it is not the same. If you put the UFC’s B cards on there right now, they’d be doing over 1m avg viewers per fight.

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