YAHOO SPORTS’ Kevin Iole noted UFC will “no longer produce new programming on Spike” next year, but the MMA organization “certainly won’t be forgotten by Spike.” Spike, which retains rights to “The Ultimate Fighter” and “taped fights through next year, is playing hardball with the UFC and on Tuesday announced that beginning on March 2 it would air a series” it’s calling “The Ultimate Fighter Fridays.” Spike will broadcast “three hours of programming from the first 14 seasons” of “TUF” from 9:00pm to midnight ET and PT. The broadcast “will directly conflict with the UFC’s broadcasts of the live version of ‘TUF’ that will begin airing on FX.” Iole wrote countering the UFC’s live programming on Fox’ cable networks “with taped UFC programming it owns the rights to air through the end of 2012 does nothing to build the Bellator brand, though, and further solidifies the UFC as the sport’s de facto brand name.” The decision by Spike execs to air these re-runs “simply helps to promote the UFC,” as they are “simply enhancing a competitor’s product and strengthening its brand” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/20).
BIDDING ADIEU: USA TODAY’s Reid Cherner reports ESPN Radio’s Dan Davis “marches off into retirement this weekend after 19 years” with the network. Davis did sports updates for ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser, Dan Patrick and a number of other hosts through the years. Cherner writes Davis will “live on for his call of Doug Flutie’s miracle pass for Boston College that beat the Miami Hurricanes on Nov. 23, 1984” (USA TODAY, 12/22).
NEW ROLES: The Suns named former WNBAer Kayte Christensen the team's new social media sideline reporter, the first position of its kind for the franchise. Christensen will join the team’s home game broadcasts on FS Arizona and KTAR-AM this season to share comments from fan discussions through social media (Suns)….Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia named former NBAer Malik Rose to the 76ers broadcast team, joining Marc Zumoff and Meredith Marakovits. Zumoff and Rose will broadcast all of the team’s games this season. Meanwhile, Eric Snow has retired from his role as 76ers color analyst (Comcast SportsNet).
NOTES: Fox earned a 14.4 final Nielsen rating and 23.4 million viewers for its NFL Week 15 singleheader last Sunday, marking the net's highest-rated singleheader since Week 10 in '98 and most-viewed singleheader ever. Through 15 weeks, Fox remains on pace for its highest-rated NFL season since '95 and most-viewed season ever (Austin Karp, THE DAILY)....The Clippers-Lakers game on Monday was the “most watched preseason game in NBA TV history,” drawing 509,000 viewers. The previous record of 501,000 viewers was set during the Pistons-Heat game on Oct. 5, 2010 in the Heat’s first game with Fs LeBron James and Chris Bosh joining G Dwayne Wade (AP, 12/20)….NESN earned a 7.7 local rating for Monday night’s Canadiens-Bruins game, marking the “second-highest-rated regular-season Bruins telecast in network history” (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/21).