In an interview this week with Broadcasting & Cable magazine (linked here), UFC visionary/president Dana White flexed his plan to have a 24/7 channel dedicated to the MMA scene within the next two years.
Already seeing how popular it has become, not just on pay-per-view, but with regular shows on Versus and Spike TV, White said: “A lot of people don’t realize we are in a half a billion homes around the world. You know all the things we’ve been through in the United States, but this sport travels well. Cricket will never be big here and the NFL will never be big around the world. But we are all human beings and fighting is in our DNA.
“We get it and we like it. So we are working on a couple moves now and should be in a billion homes around the world in the next couple months.”
White’s implication is that UFC, whose contract with Spike TV is up next year, will be a more consistent product on a non-cable channel, with Fox’s and NBC’s names dropped as the main enabler as a Saturday night event.
“I don’t disagree with that,” White says. “We’re in the middle of this stuff, we can’t talk about it, but it’s all common sense.”
We’re really not sure what common sense has to do with anything UFC related, except that attempt by CBS to do what amounted to a minor-league version of MMA with Gus Johnson inhailing his microphone didn’t play well to that network-savvy audience base.
And, apparently, after reading this, HBO won’t soon be in the MMA business.
With last Saturday’s heavyweight triumph by Cain Velasquez over Brock Lesnar, a Mexican-American, inroads into the Mexican audience could be seized upon.
“Cain winning the title and holding the title is a big deal for the Latino market,” White tells SI.com. The L.A. Times’ Lance Pugmire also wrote that Velasquez’s win give the UFC “footing in its quest to widen an audience too often stereotyped in the U.S. as a group of white, 20-something beer drinkers.”
Thursday, Versus announced it will expand its UFC partnership to include four more UFC-run World Extreme Cagefighting events live in 2011. The WEC was created to showcase lower weight-division fightersr. Versus has two more live WEC events this year on Nov. 11 and Dec. 16.
“We have a great relationship with the Versus network, and we look forward to working with them to give UFC fans even more free fights in 2011,” White said in the press release.
No one should be blindsided by White thinking UFC could operate its own network, and probably sell it to any cable or dish system. Perhaps the Arts & Entertainment Channel could merge with MMA for the Mixed Martial Arts & Entertainment Channel.
That might bloody up the competiton.
Meanwhile, with all due respect to today’s media column (linked here), we have more notes before we tap out:
== A clip from Sunday’s episode of CBS’ “60 Minutes,” where Bob Simon talks to Zenyatta jockey Mike Smith about her chances of being known as the greatest horse of all time if she can repeat in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 6:
== Barry Tompkins, Petros Papadakis and Rebecca Haarlow are on the Fox Sports Network broadcast of UCLA-Arizona on Saturday at the Rose Bowl (FSW, 12:30 p.m.) The 5 p.m. USC-Arizona game with Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit and Erin Andrews goes to 79 percent of the country on ABC; the other 21 percent get Ohio State-Minnesota.
== The Onion’s take (linked here) on how a “nation” is “disappointed” by a “great World Series matchup,” which includes this fake quote by a fan named Paul Rockwell of Uniontown, Pa.: “The worst thing about this World Series is that with the outstanding ability of the Giants and Rangers to hit, run, and field, and with no real asshole to root against, it just feels like a celebration of baseball. And that sucks. Do you know why that sucks? Because I’m a horrible, shallow person, and while I like to think of myself as a fan, I only get off on storylines and personalities completely unrelated to the game itself.”
== The L.A. NFL TV lineup this weekend:
= 10 a.m., Channel 11: Green Bay at N.Y. Giants (with Kenny Albert, Darryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa, instead of Carolina-St. Louis and Washington-Detroit).
= 10 a.m., Channel 2: Jacksonville at Dallas (with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. CBS has Denver-San Francisco from Wembley, England with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf in this window, as well as Miami-Cincinnati and Buffalo-Kansas City.)
= 1 p.m., Channel 11: Minnesota at New England (with Thom Brennaman and Troy Aikman, instead of Tampa Bay-Arizona and Seattle-Oakland.
= 1 p.m., Channel 2: Tennessee at San Diego (with Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts)
= 5:20 p.m., Channel 4: Pittsburgh at New Orleans (with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Andrea Kremer … with a Guiness Book of World Records rep reportedly on hand to validate it as the largest Halloween gathering in human history).
= 5:30 p.m., ESPN: Houston at Indianapolis (with Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden).
The Chargers’ blackout, in addition to those that will happen Sunday in Detroit and Oakland, mean there will be 13 blackouts in the first eight weeks this NFL season. Cincinnati avoided a blackout this Sunday by delivering after getting a 24-hour extension. There were 22 total blackouts last season.
== Part of ESPN’s dolling-up its coverage of the Miami Heat’s first home game tonight (against Orlando, we’ve been allowed to reveal) – Hannah Storm will host special “SportsCenter” segments throughout the day, throwing it to reporter Rachel Nichols when appropriate, Magic Johnson will do an exclusive interview with Heat president (and his former Lakers coach) Pat Riley for the pregame show (at 4 p.m.) and NBA Finals A-team Mike Breen, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy will call it, with reporter Doris Burke.
Oh, and in the second game of the TV doubleheader, the Lakers play their first road game, in Phoenix, a rematch of last season’s Western Conference final, and the assignment goes to Dan Shulman, Hubie Brown and Lisa Salters.
== With ESPN.com pushing its “Heat Index” barometer, taking the temperature of the Miami Heat every screen refresh, FoxSports.com has started its own “Heat or 3Peat” season-long comparison of LeBron James’ new team again the Lakers’ pursuit to win its third NBA title in a row. Billy Witz, the former Daily News staff writer, will follow the Lakers (on FoxSportsWest.com) while Bill Reiter has been assigned to the Heat (through FoxSportsFlorida.com).
“Neither reporter is writing game stories. That’s not what this is about,” explained FoxSports.com Editor-in-Chief Rick Jaffe. “We’re looking for them to write what amounts to a book chronicling the inner-workings of each team over the season’s eight months, with each story filed being the latest chapter.”
Witz is also going to be incorporated in Fox Sports Radio programming (on 570-AM) and on the Lakers’ pre and post-game shows on FSW. Witz’s latest piece on Ron Artest raffling off his championship ring (linked here).
As for Reiter’s bio: The last four years as the sports enterprise reporter for The Kansas City Star, a reporter for The Des Moines Register and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has written for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, The Washington Times and The (London) Express and, according to Fox sources, he once interviewed former President Bill Clinton at a urinal.
== If you’re looking for one, big comprensive, researched and typo-free preview of the NBA TV season, go to SI.com’s Richard Deitsch (linked here).
== The NBA’s “League Pass” announced a “Three-Point Play” bundle for out-of-market games available on TV, the Internet and mobile phones, with a free preview ending Tuesday. The entire NBA League Pass goes for $179 if purchased by Tuesday. The online app (which includes a live DVR function) is $109 with the mobile pass going for $44.
== What could Phoenix Suns star Steve Nash possibly have in common with Opie Taylor? The Sundance Channel’s documentary series, “Iconoclasts,” that airs Saturday (9 p.m.) puts Nash with film maker Ron Howard to talk it out.
Nash, on going to the basketball route: “I had one scholarship offer — Santa Clara. So I went to Santa Clara and tried to make the most of it and had a great experience. But not really until after my sophomore year were people starting to warm to the idea that I would be a pro basketball player even though I felt all along that I was going to do it… There are not a lot of 6-2 white point guards from Canada in the NBA so I can ynderstand why a lot of people thought that was a misguiding pursuit, but I felt like maybe it was time there was one.”
Howard, on how sports worked for him as a child actor: “When I would get off early from the ‘Andy Griffith Show,’ I lived about a mile from a gym in Burbank. It was this important equalizing for me because there was a lot of teasing … I’d always have to get into fights when I’d go back to public school from having been on the set. Sports was an equalizer. It played a really important role in my life.”
Flash ahead to Season 3, Episode 6 of “Happy Days” — “After being embarrassed at Arnold’s in front of his date by a couple of hoods named Frankie and Rocko, Richie turns to the Fonz for advice, and soon decides that he wants to learn jujutsu to defend and stand up for himself… ”
It’s the circle of TV life.
== AND REALLY, FINALLY:
== We made note of Edward R. Murrow Award winner Lance Orozco from Cal Lutheran’s KCLU a few weeks ago (linked here). But it was nothing like the attention he got from David Letterman. And Matt Damon: