Once of these options now seems to come by way of a partnership with Showtime. Speaking to Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting, Showtimes’ executive Stephen Espinoza has stated that he is very interest in partnering up with the number one MMA promotion.
It has been suggested that rather than having one sole broadcast partner, we could instead be seeing events on various stations including FOX and potentially Showtime – This would be in line with other sports such as NFL or NBA.
On discussing if Showtime would put in an offer Espinoza said: “It would be silly not to, we aren’t going to support the organisation on our own shoulders like the FOX deal.” This means that Showtime would be willing to be a broadcast partner but not the full-time partner in which FOX serves as the moment.
Espinoza’s only worry at the moment is clarity on what events get screened on what station, it’s clear that the big draws (mostly title fights) are on PPV, with the next big draws on FOX, then lesser draws on FS1 and Fight Pass. Espinoza want’s clarity on why a certain fight is on Showtime instead of FOX or FS1.
“Fans have to under why certain fights are on Pay Per View, certain fights are on Showtime and why some are on network television and so on. As long as you sort that out from a marketing perspective, I think it could work.” Said Espinoza.
Showtime has had previous dealings with the UFC – First as rivals when Showtime was the distributor for StrikeForce, then as partners when Zuffa purchased StrikeForce, and most recently as co-promoters for Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor.
Each dealing with Showtime hasn’t exactly been the warmest – When the UFC took over StrikeForce, StrikeForce was already tied into a broadcast deal with Showtime, and the company would not allow Dana White to get involved as much as he would have liked, when StrikeForce finally folded Dana stated “It won’t happen again”
Dana was again none too pleased with his dealings with Showtime, being critical of the way they promoted the McGregor fight and aspects surrounding it. However, despite all this Espinoza believes past dealings won’t get in the way of Showtime reaching out to the UFC.
“Dana and I have disagreed on some things, but my relationship is strong. I like the guys, virtually almost all the time that was at StrikeForce is still over there and I like dealing with them. That’s not to say I don’t like dealing with Dana. He and I have disagreements, which is fine. The NFL and I have disagreements sometimes. It happens.”
Espinoza has stated that Showtime has been looking to jump back into the MMA market for awhile now but there has been no viable opportunity to do so, with the UFC becoming available for new broadcast deals, it could all change.
“There will be a conversation,” Espinoza said.