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Spike Extends Deal With UFC Through 2011

Oct 25, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Spike TV said it has extended its deal with the Ultimate Fighting Championship and will remain the UFC’s exclusive basic-cable home through 2011.
UFC programming is among the highest-rated on Spike. The UFC reality show “The Ultimate Fighter” averages more than 1.5 million viewers per week and is especially attractive to the young men around whom Spike is building its brand.
The agreement gives Spike four more series of “The Ultimate Fighter,” four editions per year of “UFC Fight Nights” featuring live bouts and 39 one-hour episodes of “UFC Unleashed.” That series, hosted by Mike Goldberg, features great fights from the history of the UFC, many of which have not been seen on basic cable; it will appear beginning in 2009.
Spike also has committed to run two seasons of a new weekly live fight series.
The extension is estimated to be worth $100 million, though Spike and UFC executives declined to comment on financial terms.
“We are paying the UFC more money than Joe Torre turned down from the Yankees,” said Kevin Kay, president of Spike TV, which picked up the UFC after World Wrestling Enterprises moved to USA Network. “The most important thing for me is we’re still in business with the UFC and we secured our future long-term with them, because I think we’re both critical to each other’s success.”
Mr. Kay said the deal also gives Spike three to five minutes of exclusive digital content per episode of “Ultimate Fighter” and for each “Fight Night” to use on its Web site.
“It will be a little bit more behind-the-scenes, and a little bit more about how guys train and a little more information about what it takes to be an athlete in this sport, which is really important and something we know our guys are very curious about,” Mr. Kay said.
Dana White, president of Zuffa, which runs the Ultimate Fighting Championship, said the UFC was looking for ways to jazz up “The Ultimate Fighter.” The series is set to begin production of its seventh season in January.
“Spike TV has really been a good partner to us,” Mr. White said. “It’s a network that hasn’t tried to stop us from growing.”
He said UFC, which recently launched a syndicated show and stages pay-per-view events, is still interested in a broadcast or pay TV deal.
“We haven’t even scratched the surface of how big this thing’s going to be,” Mr. White said. “We’ve got big plans over the next five years.”

32 Comments

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