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Fuel TV announced Tuesday that it will "air a 24-hour UFC marathon on Jan. 1 that starts a relationship between the channel and the UFC," according to Kevin Iole of YAHOO SPORTS. As part of UFC's deal with Fox, Fuel will air "more than 2,000 hours of programming a year, including more than 100 hours of live events." The channel also will "broadcast live fight cards, 'UFC Tonight' -- a weekly news and information show, live weigh-ins, pre- and post-fight shows and various other content." It will "air more UFC-related programming than any network ever has done." Fuel TV Exec VP & GM George Greenberg said that UFC content "meshes perfectly with Fuel’s plans." A Fuel spokesperson said that FX will "carry pay-per-view prelims and Fuel will run the prelims for events which air on FX, FOX, and Fuel." Occasional prelims will "still be carried on Facebook." Greenberg said that the split between male and female viewers of UFC programming is "now roughly 85 percent male, 15 percent female." He "believes that women’s demographic will increase by 10 to 15 percent as UFC programming on Fuel gains a foothold." Fuel will carry the "entire fight card from Nashville, Tenn., on Jan. 20." Fuel also will "air the preliminary bouts for the UFC on Fox 2 card in Chicago on Jan. 28" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/14). YAHOO SPORTS' Damon Martin noted Fuel "currently boasts availability to approximately 36 million homes" and is "bolstering for a big increase in subscribers and outlets in the next year." UFC President Dana White said, "Since they found out that the UFC is coming to Fox and Fuel is going to be a huge destination -- you can’t be a UFC fan and not have Fuel, we’re gonna have so many live fights and MMA content that fans are gonna want -- they’ve already gone up 11 percent. They’re in 38 million homes now." Greenberg said that he "can't make cable providers pick up Fuel TV if they don't already carry it, but the fans will soon be demanding it enough that it's going to happen" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/13).
DRAWING AD INTEREST: BROADCASTING & CABLE's Jon Lafayette noted Fuel is "selling packages involving billboards and title sponsorship, and companies that had not advertised on the channel before in both the car and energy drink categories have shown interest." Fox Cable Ad Sales President Lou LaTorre said, "Demand's been great. Sellout is above what we had targeted. Pricing is above. And the number of categories that we had focused on being interested is far broader than we anticipated" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 12/13 issue).
The NBA this season is "combining its NBA League Pass linear, broadband and mobile offerings" for one price of $169, according to R. Thomas Umstead of MULTICHANNEL NEWS. NBA Digital GM and Turner Sports VP/Strategy, Marketing & Programming Christina Miller said that the League Pass will "include mobile access to live games ... along with broadband access of the games" for the first time. The mobile package last season "was an additional $39 on top of the $189 NBA League Pass package." Miller added that NBA Digital will “run a free, two-week preview of NBA League Pass beginning the day after Christmas and ending Jan. 8.” Miller said that she is “confident that NBA fans will purchase the NBA League Pass at the same levels as last year, although she would not reveal specific numbers.” Miller: “Fans are excited to have the NBA back -- the interest is still there and the NBA has a strong brand" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 12/13). Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic’s Ivan Carter said it is "ridiculous" for the NBA to charge $169 for the season when there are only 66 games being played. Carter: "The NBA looks horribly arrogant in this whole thing. 'We’re going to lock you out, meaning the fans, now we’re going to charge you the same for our product, the same crappy tickets for a crappy product because now you’re going to have a smashed-in season.' … Wouldn’t you throw a bone to us and lower the price of the package?” Carter added, "I’m still a basketball fan, I’m still going to watch this season, I love NBA hoops. But it’s time for you to go, David Stern. We need a fresh face leading the NBA” (“Washington Post Live,” Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, 12/13).
ONE-STOP SHOP: Fox Sports Indiana yesterday announced that it will televise every Pacers game this season, marking the first time in franchise history the net will air all the games in a season. Chris Denari will handle play-by-play duties for his sixth straight season and will be joined by analysts Quinn Buckner and Austin Croshere. Brooke Olzendam will be in her first season as pre- and postgame host and sideline reporter. All the games will air in HD (Fox Sports).
ESPN VP/Communications Mike Soltys yesterday would not speculate on whether college football analyst Craig James "would be on-air" for Sunday's Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl if he declares himself a candidate for the open Texas U.S. Senate seat, according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. Soltys said, "He told us today he hasn't decided if he wants to run" (USA TODAY, 12/14). In Dallas, Gromer Jeffers Jr. cited sources as saying that James will file his candidacy "by Thursday's deadline." Jeffers noted James is "running in the March 6 GOP primary" (DALLASNEWS.com, 12/13). In Houston, Amanda Sakuma reported James is entering the Republican primary contest "to replace retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's open seat in 2012." As the "founder of Texans for a Better America, James has been subtly positioning himself for the political limelight." James "floated his name in 2010 as a potential senatorial candidate" if Hutchison resigned to run for Governor against Rick Perry, but she "didn't leave office at the time" (CHRON.com, 12/13). In Ft. Worth, Anna Tinsley noted there has "long been speculation that James ... would leave ESPN after the season to seek political office" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/14).
The GUARDIAN’s Mark Sweney reported ITV1 “will screen England's opening and final matches in the pool stage of Euro 2012 football championship, against France and Ukraine respectively, with the BBC bagging England's first two knockout matches -- should they make it that far.” The BBC will also “show England's second group game, against Sweden, as part of a deal that will split coverage of the 31 matches at the tournament next June between the two broadcasters.” The division of games is “similar to the agreement reached for the World Cup in 2010 with ITV aiming to cash in on guaranteed audiences for England at the group stage rather than gambling on the team qualifying for the knockout stages” (GUARDIAN, 12/13).
TUNING IN: The Southern Conference “will broadcast Saturday afternoon basketball games on several Southeastern public TV systems this season.” The league announced “an eight-game schedule starting with Georgia Southern against Davidson on Jan. 7 and running each Saturday through the regular season.” In addition, the league's “semifinal games from its men's and women's basketball tournaments, plus the women's tournament finals will be shown.” The league “had a similar broadcast package during football season” (AP, 12/13).
TV LAND: In New Jersey, Pete Caldera notes former MLB manager Lou Piniella is “in discussions to work part time as a YES broadcaster during the 2012 season.” YES Network VP/Communications Eric Handler yesterday via e-mail wrote, "There has been some dialogue, but there is no deal in place" (Bergen RECORD, 12/14)....On Long Island, Neil Best reported Newsday’s Knicks beat writer Alan Hahn will be leaving the paper “at the end of next week to join MSG Network,” where he will do “pre and postgame studio work as well as writing for MSG.com and other stuff” (NEWSDAY.com, 12/12).