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Saturday, April 21, 2007
Mixed Martial Arts--- Zuffa-Owned WEC to Make Live Cable TV Debut on June 3
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
World Extreme Cagefighting is scheduled to make its debut on live cable television on June 3rd, according to the Versus Network's web site. The Versus Network and WEC previously announced a partnership that would start in June, and now the specific date and other details have been pinned down.
The first live WEC fight card is scheduled to air on the Versus Network on Sunday, June 3rd from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM. Versus' web site lists the next two live WEC broadcasts as taking place on Sunday, August 5th and Wednesday, September 5th.
While any of these dates could change, the June 3rd date is solid enough that the WEC has formally requested the date with the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
The WEC has run two events since being purchased by the Fertittas, who also own Pride and the UFC, and an additional WEC event is scheduled for May 12th. Footage from these events will serve as the basis for a series of WEC highlight shows that will air on Versus, not unlike UFC Unleashed on Spike TV.
All of the WEC's live events since the Fertitta purchase have taken place at the WEC's unofficial new "home base" venue, The Joint at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas, Nevada.
As previously reported by MMAWeekly, the WEC's deal with Versus Network is for three live fight specials (each of which will be two hours in length), and six highlight shows at one hour apiece. The total committment from Versus at this point is for 12 hours of WEC programming, plus replays.
The six new episodes of WEC highlight shows are scheduled to premiere on Versus at the following dates and times: Sunday, June 3rd at 8:00 PM (leading into the first live fight special); Wednesday, June 6th at 9:00 PM; Wednesday, June 13th at 9:00 PM; Sunday, August 5th at 8:00 PM (leading into the second live fight special); Wednesday, August 8th at 9:00 PM; and Wednesday, August 15th at 9:00 PM.
The Versus Network, formerly known as the Outdoor Life Network, is available in approximately 70 million U.S. households. This is not at the level of cable networks such as Spike TV, which is available in over 90 million households, but the Versus Network does have a far wider reach than premium networks like HBO (30 million households) and Showtime (15 million households). Versus had been in advanced negotiations for a TV deal with the IFL prior the Fertittas' purchase of the WEC.
Given the low ratings that the NHL has drawn on the Versus Network, it would not be unrealistic for one to expect that the WEC could approach or even surpass the NHL's viewership levels right out of the gate. If that were to happen, it would be a mere formality for Versus to order more episodes of the WEC's live and pre-taped programming.