- - Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fox signs deal to air UFC’s ‘Ultimate Fighter’

Fox is stepping into the mixed martial arts ring.

The network has teamed with Zuffa, owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship brand, for rights to live fights on its broadcast network with its flagship “Ultimate Fighter” series heading to cable network FX.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, under the seven-year deal, FX will air the weekly reality show starting in spring 2012 with a new format. In addition, FX will air another four to six live UFC events per year, with additional events and programs heading to Fox Sports Media Group cable networks including Fuel TV.

“We’re excited to be part of the Fox family,” UFC President Dana White said. “The UFC is finally where it belongs, on the No. 1 network in the country and aligned with the most prestigious sports properties in the world. I’ve always said that the UFC will be the biggest sport in the world and with this relationship it will become a reality.”

Fox has set the first live UFC event for 6 p.m. on Nov. 12.

UFC’s growth over the past decade is nothing short of phenomenal, and it has become one of the marquee sports in this country,” said John Landgraf, FX Networks president and general manager. “There is a reason for its rising popularity. It features some of the greatest athletes in the world, and we believe it will be a terrific addition to our schedule and look forward to our relationship.”

The deal ends “Ultimate Fighter’s” run on Spike TV, which will air the 14th season of the MMA series starting next month.

Said Spike TV in a statement: “We are increasing our commitment to distinctive, original series that we own such as ‘Auction Hunters’ and ‘Bar Rescue,’ which are delivering on our goal to reach a broader audience. Our six-year partnership with the UFC has been incredibly beneficial in building both our brands, and we wish them all the best in the future.”

OWN unveils schedule of prime-time shows

OWN has announced its prime-time schedule for new series premiering in October.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the network will be anchored by Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show “The Rosie Show” and “Oprah’s Lifeclass” (previously “OWN Your Life”), which will debut Oct. 10. The cable network is bolstering its weekend programming with the premieres of returning favorites “Ask Oprah’s All Stars” and “Our America With Lisa Ling,” set for Oct. 16.

New weekend series premiering in mid-October include “Don’t Tell the Bride,” “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” and “Visionaries: Inside the Creative Mind.”

“With Rosie and Oprah holding down our weeknights, we have a great opportunity to seamlessly reach our core audience on weekends with these strong original and returning series,” said Erik Logan, co-president of OWN.

“We’ve already created a destination for our audience on Sunday nights and look forward to building on the momentum Monday through Friday, and expanding OWN’s success to Saturdays,” added co-president Sheri Salata.

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