UFC President Dana White has maintained that FX and Fuel are very happy with the numbers the UFC has brought in for them, and he reiterated that feeling on Friday following the UFC on FX 5 event in Minneapolis.
"Fuel TV couldn't be f***ing more ecstatic," White told reporters when asked about the dip in numbers for UFC on Fuel 5 last Saturday. "They're killing it. As far as FX goes, they put us on Fridays. They like the numbers on Fridays. Every weekend, they're in the top three in the demos. Otherwise, they'll be in there re-running movies and stuff like that. They like it on Fridays."
Still, even though he's stressed that the networks themselves have been happy, the dip in interest for the UFC's televised product has caused concern amongst some fans and pundits. White made it clear he doesn't share those concerns.
"Do I look like I'm f---ing panicking? Do I look panicked? Do I look stressed? As long as guys quit getting arrested and injured, my life would be f***ing fantastic... We're in a deal with these guys for six [more] years. Nobody is panicking about anything... We're catching our stride now working together. I swear to God when I say this: Things couldn't be better with the relationship with Fox and the way things are going. If we can keep guys f***ing healthy, we'll be happy as hell."
"I know the plans. I know what's going on. Stop stressing, everybody. Stop worrying. Stop stressing. I appreciate your concern. I really do. But we're going to be just fine."
White was asked about some of those future plans, and when a report from the LA Times from last weekend was brought up - one which mentioned the possibility of a new Fox Sports channel which would see SPEED TV rebranded Fox Sports 1 - White gave MMATorch a coy smile and response.
"Really? Interesting," he commented with a smirk. "They didn't tell me about that. We might be a part of that. That would be fun."
Penick's Analysis: I think it's apparent that Fuel TV and FX are not the be all end all with the UFC's deal, and if the Fox Sports 1 channel is a big part of the plans for the UFC in the next couple of years they could be in much better shape. For one thing, SPEED is available in about 60 million more homes than Fuel, so a lot more homes will have access to the rebranded "Fox Sports 1," or any other name they go by with that. Additionally, the UFC will have good sports lead-in programming consistently on a channel like that, so for now they're still in a "work in progress" pattern, and more is likely to come from the next couple of years of work that they put in. We'll likely begin seeing some changes as the next year unfolds, but for now all anyone can really react to is the numbers themselves.