WATCH: Showtime Boss- “We’d Consider A UFC Deal”
On the MMA Hour this week, Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza talked with Ariel Helwani about the possibility of the network dipping its toes back into MMA and being one of the potential broadcast homes for the UFC when their FOX deal is up at the end of this year.
“It would be silly not to… We are not gonna support the organization on our own shoulders. Not [like] the FOX deal.”
With four outlets already being utilized by the UFC (PPV, Fox, FS1, and Fight Pass), Espinoza wants there to be a “clarity”
The one concern Espinoza and Showtime have with the UFC is the number of masters they must serve with regards to distribution. Right now, the UFC generally puts its best events on pay per view, the next tier on Fox and a tier below on Fox Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass.
Those are four different outlets to release their product and Espinoza would want to be sure there is a “clarity” of which fights go where if Showtime was to enter into a broadcast deal with the UFC. Espinoza said fans “have to understand why” certain fights are on pay per view, certain fights are on Showtime, some are on network television, and so on.
“As long as you sort that out from a marketing perspective and messaging perspective, I think it could work.”
“Dana and I have disagreed on some things, but my relationships over there are strong… I like the guys. Virtually, almost all the team that was there in Strikeforce is still over there and I like dealing with them. I like them as people, I like them as individuals and I like them as business people. It’s not to say I don’t like Dana. He and I have had disagreements, which is fine. The NFL and I have disagreements sometimes. It happens.”
Espinoza said Showtime has an interest in bringing MMA back to its network, but there hasn’t been an “opportunity” in the recent past to do it. The UFC being available would change all that.
“Whenever they’re free of their obligations, there will be a conversation.”