UFC/HBO Deal Dead in the Water

Multichannel News is reporting that negotiations between the UFC and HBO have stopped, putting an end to any potential deal between the two, at least for the present.

“After lots of discussion it became apparent that the business model doesn’t make sense for either one of us. So we agreed to go our separate ways,” HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg said in a statement. “You never know what the future holds. We have enormous respect and admiration for the executives we dealt with at the UFC. We wish them well.”

From everything I’ve heard, it sounds like this is an accurate explanation for why the deal didn’t work. There really is no reason for the UFC to be on HBO other than the prestige offered by the king of the premium channels. HBO typically insists on using its own crew and announcers for sporting events, which wouldn’t sit well with the UFC.

It also doesn’t make sense to be splitting revenue with HBO when they can get a better split with the pay-per-view carriers they’ve been using. The only advantage to being on HBO at this point is to be able to say the UFC is on HBO, once a proud home of boxing. It seems more about image than about smart business deals, which is probably why it isn’t happening.

The big winner here is Spike TV, who is reportedly hoping to renew their contract with the UFC. Now that HBO is no longer an option, it puts Spike in a better negotiating position as the cable TV home of the UFC.

That’s good news for them, as anyone who’s tried watching the channel knows they’re pretty thin on original programming. I’ll spare you here another diatribe against Manswers, but just know I haven’t forgotten about it.

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Filed under HBO, MMA, Sports, UFC

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