UFC Looking To Buy Part OF G4 Channel


Sunday, June 12, 2011
By BRIAN STELTER

Comcast is in talks to sell a controlling interest in the G4 cable channel to the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

It is unclear how close the parties are to a deal, but representatives of UFC and Comcast’s NBCUniversal division were said to have met in New York on Wednesday, according to three people with knowledge of the ongoing talks. The people insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized by their employers to comment.

UFC, which produces popular but sometimes controversial mixed martial arts matches, is known to be seeking an expansion of its television footprint. It is in talks with several different potential distributors, one of the people said.

Last fall, the president of UFC, Dana White, predicted in an interview with Broadcasting & Cable that the league would start its own network “within the next couple years.” At the time he also expressed an eagerness to bring UFC fights to broadcast television in the U.S. for the first time. Presumably a deal with Comcast could also include specials on the NBC broadcast network, which Comcast also controls.

Representatives for Comcast, G4 and UFC declined to comment Wednesday night. The talks were first reported by the Web site of The Wall Street Journal.

Two of the people with knowledge of the NBCUniversal talks said that UFC, which is privately held, could take ownership of 60 percent or more of G4, which is one of the lowest-rated cable channels in Comcast’s portfolio. Its target audience of men ages 18 to 34 overlaps nicely with UFC’s audience on Spike, a unit of Viacom, which has carried a fighting reality show for the last six years.

Spike’s $170 million-a-year deal with UFC for the show, “The Ultimate Fighter,” and for live fights expires in six months. Negotiations between Spike and UFC for a new deal started almost one year ago, one of the people said, but broke down after UFC proposed a $325 million-a-year fee, a price that was far steeper than Spike was willing to pay.

Spike executives, meanwhile, are said to be eyeing an alternative for fights: MTV2, another unit of Viacom, recently started showing fights produced by Bellator, a smaller mixed martial arts league, and those fights could be moved over to Spike.

The fate of shows currently on G4, like the video games and pop culture telecast “Attack of the Show,” is undetermined.


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