Surprising Game Reveals Teased by Game Informer and SpikeTV
Workers for the magazine Game Informer claim that their January issue, which will be released in December, will feature a cover of what “may be the most surprising of the year” according to associate editor Philip Kollar. The magazine’s executive editor, Andrew Reiner, also made a post on his Twitter, saying “I wish I could see the look on the face of every person who views our next cover.”
What Channel is UFC on in 2012 and Beyond?
MMA Weekly has a good article up today about what network the UFC might partner up with when their contract with Spike TV runs out in 6 months. It represents another pivotal point in the growth of the company as they continue their march towards complete legitimacy in the sports world while making a buck here or there. For most viewers of the sport, they don’t really care where they see their UFC programming as long as they have access to it, but I think it’s a really interesting dilemma for the people at Zuffa.
Let’s look at the existing relationship with SpikeTV. It’s no secret that both UFC and Spike have benefited greatly from their long-standing partnership. When the partnership was first formed, the UFC was starting to find its legs, but the growth really surged around the time that the Ultimate Fighter reality series began on Spike. On the other side, Spike was still trying to shed the image from the long-standing TNN that would show nothing but country-related programming. The Ultimate Fighter helped to launch a network that is still struggling to gain viewers for programming that isn’t UFC-related.
Let’s face it. Spike TV has done the equivalent of the poker player’s all-in while well behind and hoping for a miracle card. If you watch anything else on Spike TV that doesn’t have to do with the UFC, then you’re better than I am. That’s where they make their name and you would have to think that in order for them to survive as a network, they would need to convince Dana White and the brass at the UFC that they should continue to work with them.
Here’s the problem. The UFC doesn’t need Spike TV anymore. Much like the star player that moves up from the AHL (or Triple-A for all Americans reading this), the UFC has outgrown the tiny network and is now in a position to be a star with a major network. Millions watch it on pay-pre-view, thousands attend the numerous shows they have every month and that means the big boys should be taking notice. Or at least we think.
The big question is: How leery are the major networks of putting MMA on prime-time TV, particularly after the PR hit that CBS took from the Mayhem Miller vs. Jake Shields incident. A dark moment for MMA in which a brawl was started inside the cage in front of a national audience and Gus Johnson proclaimed that “sometimes these things happen in MMA…there’s a lot of testosterone in the cage.”
If you look at the ratings for their Saturday night specials, CBS did fairly well compared to their competition and what they would be showing regularly, but would they want to go down that route again? Probably not. Their sports coverage is very strong with blanket AFC coverage of the NFL, weekly college basketball/football games and the PGA Tour.
ABC would be in the same boat thanks to their partnership with ESPN. ABC has access to the NBA Finals, NASCAR and College Football. FOX has blanket NFC coverage of the NFL, MLB, NASCAR and College Football from time to time. The only network (s) that might be in a position to take the UFC in would be NBC and its partner Versus.
NBC has access to NFL Sunday Night Football, NHL, Tennis, PGA Tour, Horse Racing, Notre Dame Football and the Olympics. High Quantity, but low quality. NBC/Versus would also make a lot of sense because of a pre-existing relationship between Zuffa and Versus with either WEC or UFC-related programming.
Wherever the fans end up seeing UFC programming in 2012 and beyond, rest assured that the network or networks that end up partnering with the UFC will end up inheriting an extremely loyal audience. There’s also a great chance that if a major network signs on, an even bigger audience may be created. It could be another big step in the evolution of the sport.