August 19, 2022

Comcast Said to Be in Talks Over G4 Cable Channel

It is unclear how close the parties are to a deal, but representatives of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Comcast’s NBCUniversal division were said to have met in New York on Wednesday, according to three people with knowledge of the talks. The people insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized by their employers to comment.

The talks were first reported by the Web site of The Wall Street Journal.

Ultimate Fighting Championship, which produces popular but sometimes controversial mixed martial arts matches, is known to be seeking an expansion of its television footprint. It is in talks with several different potential distributors, one of the people said.

Last fall, the president of Ultimate Fighting Championship, Dana White, predicted in an interview that the league would start its own network “within the next couple years.” At the time he also expressed an eagerness to bring Ultimate Fighting Championship fights to broadcast television in the United States for the first time. Presumably a deal with Comcast could also include specials on the NBC broadcast network, which Comcast also controls.

Representatives for Comcast, G4 and Ultimate Fighting Championship declined to comment Wednesday. Two of the people with knowledge of the NBC-Universal talks said that Ultimate Fighting Championship, which is privately held, could take ownership of 60 percent or more of G4, which is one of the lowest-rated cable channels in Comcast’s portfolio. Its intended audience of men ages 18 to 34 overlaps well with Ultimate Fighting Championship’s audience on Spike, a unit of Viacom, which has carried a fighting reality show for the last six years.

Spike’s deal with U.F.C. for the show, “The Ultimate Fighter,” expires in six months. Negotiations between Spike and Ultimate Fighting Championship for a new deal started almost a year ago, one of the people said, but broke down after Ultimate Fighting Championship proposed a dramatic increase in Spike’s annual payment.

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