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Friday, July 07, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC Expansion Includes Likely HBO Deal
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
The UFC plans to run a very large amount of shows in 2007 and is very close to a television deal with HBO, the Wrestling Observer reports.
The Observer reports that the negotiations between Zuffa and HBO are serious enough that a deal between the two sides is "likely" to be reached in the near future. The UFC shows on HBO would be in addition to all of the UFC shows on pay-per-view and Spike TV, and would not replace the PPV or Spike deals. The deal with HBO might also place limits on the speech of UFC president Dana White in terms of how negative he is allowed to be when talking about boxing in the future, according to the Observer.
Additionally, the Observer reports that regardless of whether or not a deal is finalized between Zuffa and HBO, Zuffa is planning to run a staggering number of UFC shows in 2007.
Zuffa's current plan for 2007 is to run "about eleven" UFC pay-per-view events (priced at $39.95 per event), plus 6-8 Spike TV events (which includes 4-6 Ultimate Fight Night events and the live finales of TUF 5 and TUF 6), plus an unspecified number of HBO events if a deal can be finalized.
As it is, 2006 is scheduled to have nine UFC pay-per-view events by the time the year is over. After running four PPVs in the first half of 2006, Zuffa has PPVs planned for July, August, September, October, and November of 2006, which means that nine UFC PPVs will have taken place in 2006. The plan in 2007 is to expand that number to ten or eleven PPV events during the year.
There will also be six or seven UFC events on Spike TV in 2006 by the time this year is over, and that number is poised to grow to as much as eight in 2007. In addition to the live finales of TUF 3 (in June) and TUF 4 (in November), 2006 will have also featured Ultimate Fight Night 3 in January, UFN 4 in April, UFN 5 in June, UFN 6 on August 17th, and possibly UFN 7 later in 2006. The plan for 2007, in addition to the TUF 5 and TUF 6 live finales, is to run somewhere between four and six Ultimate Fight Night events.
As previously reported by MMAWeekly, the announcements about the TV deal between Spike TV and Zuffa touted Spike as being the "exclusive cable home of the UFC," but that technically means basic cable, which allows Zuffa to also strike a deal with a pay TV channel such as HBO. The UFC events on HBO would not replace those on Spike, but HBO would be very likely to get the biggest shows that Zuffa produces other than its own PPV shows.