UFC In Talks To Acquire Controlling Interest In Comcast's G4 Network
UFC is in "talks to acquire control of its own cable network" as the MMA organization "seeks a more direct relationship with the sport's growing fan base," according to sources cited by Vascellaro & Schuker of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The sources said that UFC "is in talks to buy control of NBCUniversal's struggling G4 gaming network." The value of the potential transaction is unknown, and "how close the companies are to a deal remains unclear." A deal would be one of NBCU's "first sales since Comcast Corp. took control of the company in January." UFC's contract with Spike TV expires at the end of the year, and sources indicated that UFC "has been demanding a large increase in money to renew it." The organization also has a deal "to distribute some events" on Comcast-owned Versus. Vascellaro & Schuker note "having control of their own networks opens new revenue streams for sports organizations, allowing them to collect monthly carriage fees from cable and satellite-TV companies and to build a new asset with equity value" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/9). Sources said that UFC "could take ownership of 60 percent or more of G4, which is one of the lowest-rated cable channels in Comcast’s portfolio." The network's "target audience of men ages 18 to 34 overlaps nicely with UFC’s audience on Spike." In N.Y., Brian Stetler noted UFC President Dana White last year predicted his organization would start its own network "within the next couple years." At the time, he also "expressed an eagerness to bring UFC fights to broadcast television in the U.S. for the first time." A deal with Comcast could "also include specials on the NBC broadcast network" (NYTIMES.com, 6/8). G4 has distribution in 59.9 million U.S. homes during the month of June, down 14.2% from 69.8 million homes during the same period last year (THE DAILY).