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Dana White urges patience from fans, critics, with UFC's future on Fox - 30th September 2012
(Credit: MMA Torch)

The UFC hasn't finished out their first full year on their seven-year deal with Fox, but they've gone through growing pains throughout 2012 that have brought about a lot of criticisms of the organization. Numbers have been down on televised events, and the move to Friday nights for The Ultimate Fighter has brought about the lowest ratings in the show's history. Add in an injury issue that has destroyed the UFC's plans throughout the year, and there has definitely been a lot of negativity.

However, White maintains that anyone writing about the UFC's future, what they should be doing, and where they should be going, is inherently wrong. After Saturday's UFC on Fuel 5 event, White once again reiterated his stance that no one but the UFC knows what's coming, and disagreed with any notion that the Fox deal has been a mistake for the UFC.

"I can't tell you everything we're doing – so when I try to explain it, it's half-assed," White said in an interview with MMAjunkie.com. "When I see reporters back home trying to write out our business model, and 'Here's what they need to do' – shut the f--- up. It drives me crazy. (Reporters) have no idea what's going on, and (they) try to jump in the middle and talk about what's wrong and how to fix it. These guys that start writing these stories about what's broken, it drives me nuts."

"You have to sit back and just watch," White continued. "We're changing everything up. Things are going to be done completely different than they were. The answer isn't do less shows. When we were doing five shows a year, when we were doing eight shows a year – you can't grow the sport with five or eight shows a year. You can't bring in enough talent, enough guys can't make money. You can't cultivate all these different markets. You have to have fights. To get it done and do it the right way, you've got to have the TV deals."

"Everybody's like, 'This FOX thing was such a … this and that,' The FOX thing is the greatest thing to ever f---ing happen to this sport, and the greatest thing to ever happen to us. It will be all flushed out in the next three or four years. It's going to be great – just a lot of work."

Penick's Analysis: This is absolutely a marathon for the UFC, this isn't a deal that was going to immediately vault them into the stratosphere of popularity - as much as all of us would have liked to see the sport make that leap. There's a learning curve, there are growing pains, there are any number of issues that come up in figuring out the best way to go about this relationship with Fox. So it's understandable that things wouldn't be entirely smooth in this first year. They've got six more years after 2012 before the deal expires, and you only need to look at how much things have shifted for the UFC in the last six years to see how much things can change in a short period of time. They've got things they haven't implemented yet, and we'll see how what they'll be doing and how they'll be doing it as the next several years play out. That doesn't mean they should be immune from criticism, but White does have a reason to preach patience.


News

Nine, Fox top 'must-win' NRL rights fight - 21st August 2012

The Nine Network has secured its future by nailing down the NRL broadcast rights in a joint $1 billion deal announced with Fox Sports.

The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) announced on Tuesday that Nine and Fox Sports had secured the NRL free-to-air and pay TV broadcast rights respectively, in a five-year deal worth $1.025 billion.

Nine chief executive David Gyngell says the deal, in which incumbents Nine and Fox Sports trumped bids from the Seven and Ten networks, had been a must-win for Nine but that the price is "fair and reasonable".

"We have certainly stepped up and paid as much money as we could," Mr Gyngell said.

Mr Gyngell also said the deal - the most valuable in the history of rugby league broadcast rights - would be revenue positive.

"This is an exclusive sports rights' deal," he said.

"In this deal, we are the only free-to-air network to have exclusive sport at prime-time."

The agreement comprises $925 million in cash, of which $90 million is paid at the start of the 2013 season, and $100 million in advertising.

Nine will show three free-to-air matches weekly, while Fox Sports will have five a week on pay channels.

Nine will also have State of Origin games and an evening Grand Final.

NRL rights were last secured by Nine and Fox Sports in 2005 in a $500 million, six-year deal.

Nine Entertainment, owned by private equity firm CVC, has about $3.6 billion of debt due for refinancing in 2013 and 2014.

Media buyer Harold Mitchell, executive chairman of Aegis Media, said Nine had not overpaid and would meet its share of the $1.025 billion price tag through advertising revenue.

"Advertising volume hasn't been growing but it hasn't been collapsing," Mr Mitchell said.

"Key to any network's success will be sports programming and (Nine) are a stronger network with it than without it.

"This secures their future."

Mr Mitchell said the $1 billion deal was a positive sign for Australia's advertising market, which was in "unbelievably good shape compared to the rest of the world".

Morningstar head of equities research Peter Warnes said Nine had paid a fair price but also had to secure the rugby league as a key driver of audience numbers.

"Where would Nine be if they lost it? They had to win it," Mr Warnes said.

"I think they've probably paid a fair price.

"Had it been $1.2 billion, it would have been over the top."

Ten Network had been rumoured to have secured a package of NRL games ahead of Tuesday's announcement but is now without either rugby league or AFL, the rights to which are held by Seven.

Mr Mitchell said the NRL deal "places Ten in a difficult position". (AAP)


Fox Sports is an Australian group of sports channels. They are owned by the Premier Media Group, which is in turn owned by News Corporation, and Publishing and Broadcasting Limited. Its main competitor is ESPN, which has little local content. News Corporation also controls Fox Sports (USA) and the main pay-television sports network in the United Kingdom, Sky Sports.

Although it shares the "Fox" name, Fox Sports is not affiliated with the now defunct Fox Footy Channel, which was operated by Foxtel until its closing at 4am on October 1, 2006.

History

Fox Sports started life as the Premier Sports Network (later just 'Premier Sports') on Australia's first pay-television service, Galaxy. Premier Sports' backers included American company Prime International, which was later to become part of Liberty Media.

The service started in January 1995 in Sydney and made a name for itself, securing the rights to Australia's cricket tour of the West Indies. Previously Australian cricket tours had been covered on the Nine Network on free-to-air, and Nine tried to stop the broadcast under Australia's 'anti-siphoning' rules, which state that certain popular sporting events cannot be screened exclusively on pay television. PSN signed a deal with Network Ten to share the broadcast rights.

When Foxtel launched its cable service later that year, PSN was included as part of the package.

Since 1995, Fox Sports has been airing National Basketball League (NBL) games.

On March 1, 1996, PSN was relaunched as Fox Sports Australia, to coincide with the new Super 12 rugby union competition and the proposed launch of the Super League.

In 1997 a secondary channel was launched on Foxtel to carry broadcasts of the new National Rugby League competition. Fox Sports and its chief competitor, Sports Australia shared the rights to NRL broadcasts as a result of the legal settlement in the Super League war. The channel on Foxtel was later relaunched as Fox Sports Two, at first broadcasting from Friday through Monday each week, and later expanding to a full 24-hour, 7-day service.

When Optus Vision dropped the C7 Sport service in March 2002, they started carrying the Fox Sports channels. These were referred to by Optus as "Optus Sports 1" and "Optus Sports 2" in Optus promotional material; on-air programming referred to the channels as simply "Sports One" and "Sports Two", although programming such as the nightly Fox Sports News bulletins retained the Fox name. Optus dropped the "Optus Sports" name in October 2002.

Fox Sports Two is generally used to cover bigger events that require large amounts of air time, such as the 1998 Winter Olympics, Grand Slam tennis tournaments, and the 2004 European Football Championship.

During the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Fox Sports carried an additional eight channels dedicated to Games events. These were available to customers at an additional charge.

Fox Sports 3 is used for high rating sports broadcasts, such as the National Rugby League and Cricket. National Rugby League is the highest rating sport on Fox Sports, usually topping Pay TV ratings every week.

Fox Sports has being the exclusive broadcastor of the Hyundai A-League since its first season in 2005. And in 2006, an A$ 120m deal between the FFA and Fox Sports was reached in after the end of the first season. Under the deal, Fox Sports will have exclusive rights from 2007 to all Socceroos home internationals, all A-League and Asian Cup fixtures, World Cup qualifiers through the AFC, and all AFC Champions League matches. As part of the deal Fox Sports (and Foxtel) agreed to only call the world game by its proper name, football (rather than the American term - Soccer).

The deal to cover the A-league live and exclusive has already reaped big rewards for Fox Sports, its ratings were very strong in the 2006-2007 season and the 2007 A-league grand final became (at the time) Fox Sports highest ever rating event.[2]

Ratings for football (soccer) have generally been very good. The Socceroos first game of the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, attracted 345,000 viewers[3], while their Quarter final drew an average of 419,000[4] - an all time record for Australian Pay TV.

In 2007, Fox Sports reached a deal to broadcast 4 games live and exclusive from the AFL each week. This includes the exclusive only Sunday twilight match. In addition they will broadcast Friday night games live into New South Wales and Queensland via channel 518- normally used for pay-per-view service Main Event. When channel 518 is used in this way it is promoted as Fox Sports Plus on-air.

The channel is being used increasingly to show live events when Fox Sports has a clash involving its main 3 channels - for example on Saturday 17th of March, 2007 Fox Sports broadcast a match from the 2007 Cricket World Cup (Ireland v Pakistan) live on 518 - as it was committed to Football, Rugby Union and another cricket match on its main 3 channels.

Channels

* Fox Sports 1
* Fox Sports 2
* Fox Sports 3
* Fox Sports Plus (Used for Friday Night AFL in Sydney / Brisbane and Saturday Nights in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. It was also used nationwide for a Socceroos game in June 2007. And often when English Premier League has multiple games on the one night.)
* FoxSportsNews
* FUEL TV
* Fox Sports HD (Launches June 2008)

Programming

Original programming

* AFL Teams
* The Back Page
* Before the Bounce
* Inside Cricket
* Inside Rugby
* Inside Speed
* NBL Wrap
* NRL on Fox
* NRL Teams
* On the Couch
* PGA Golf Show
* S14 Extra Time
* The Winners
* Total Football

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Fox Sports Australia

Profiles

Andy Raymond

Jayson Onley

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