By Benjamin Bieker
As Fox looks to switch around their sports networks, the UFC continues to break records on the channels they currently are on. This past weekend UFC on FX 7, headlined by Michael Bisping and Vitor Belfort, helped propel MMA programming to some of the best ratings yet. The match between the former light-heavyweight champion and Ultimate Fighter winner pulled in nearly 1.9 million viewers to become the most watched match of any on the FX channel. Their match also help bring the biggest audience to MMA cable programming since Phil Davis took on Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in March of 2011 on Spike TV, and finally bested UFC 148 prelims which did huge ratings on FX due to the interest of Anderson Silva facing Chael Sonnen in the main event of the UFC 148 PPV.
The ratings did not end there with the prelims portion of UFC on FX 7 on Fuel TV pulling in 255,000 viewers. That is the highest viewed production ever for the Fuel channel, and it bested the former prelims record holder by 59 percent. The previously most watched program on Fuel was a card headlined by Jake Ellenberger and Diego Sanchez which pulled in 217,000 viewers on February 15th of 2012. All of these ratings records being broken come on the heels of Fox announcing a sort of rebranding for a few of their channels.
There has been news in recent weeks that FX will not hold any more sports on the channel. Instead, Speed TV and Fuel TV will be changed to be Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2. The details of the change are not readily available. Many fans wonder if the Ultimate Fighter will be moved off of FX, or since it is a reality program if it will still be on the channel. Plus, with MMA events in the UFC on FX series and the UFC on Fuel TV one has to wonder if both of the new Fox Sports channels will get UFC events as well.
Speed TV currently airs in over 80 million homes while Fuel TV is nearing the 40 million mark. It is possible that the FX events could transition to what is currently the Speed channel since they would retain the same amount of houses and viewers they could reach, and obviously the Fuel cards would stay there as it is rebranded Fox Sports 2. While a lot of this is far away with the change not happening until August it is a debate and something MMA fans and pundits alike will question until all the information is given.
What are your thoughts?