UFC boss not stressing FOX Sports 1's issues with cable providers
Dana White today said he isn't worried that the UFC's debut on the new FOX Sports 1 cable channel could fall short of its expected broadcast reach.
Although the channel has yet to cut deals with several cable companies, the UFC president said, "This is what FOX does. They build networks, and they negotiate with these different systems. A lot of times, these things go right down to the wire.
"Am I worried about it? Not one bit."
It certainly is getting down to the wire when it comes to making sure the channel is available in as many households as it promised. When FOX Sports 1's launch was announced, officials estimated it would be available in 90 million households when it goes live on Saturday. The number is on par with other cable sports channels.
If, however, FOX is unable to strike deals with cable providers such as Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and Dish Network, it will be seen in drastically fewer homes. The media companies have yet to strike a carriage deal for how much the cable providers will pay the network for its programming.
Without a deal, viewership numbers for the network's flagship programming, including Saturday's UFC Fight Night 26 event at Boston's TD Garden, could take a big short-term hit.
White, though, is focusing on the success of the event, which gets primetime placement on the new channel.
During a media teleconference in support of the fight card, the promoter took the first few minutes of the call to address the situation.
"I'm not worried about it, (and) I'm not thinking about it," he said. "I have no control over this thing. It's not what I do. So, whatever happens, happens this week, and I really have nothing else to say about it."
According to a story in this past month's Sports Business Journal, one possible sticking point between the channel and the cable providers is over subscriber fees. FOX Sports 1 reportedly wants 80 cents per subscriber at the outset and could charge $1.50 by the end of the deal. Currently, several cable companies pay around 23 per subscriber for Speed, which is being rebranded as FOX Sports 1.