Divorce is always hard and while both parties involved try to remain amicable, it happens quite often that things break down and end up in a shouting match between the two parties.
It’s no different in the world of sports and television because when relationships are going well, there’s nothing but smiles and handshakes all around. But when things break down, and the mud starts slinging, it’s open season on any and all comments made towards each other in the press.
For months after leaving Spike TV in favor of a new 7-year deal with Fox, UFC President Dana White remained on fairly solid ground with his former television partner.
He wasn’t likely going to send much business their way, but still White stayed fairly friendly towards his competitors at Spike TV after their long relationship helped build the UFC and the network to new heights.
Now, the gloves are off and both seem ready to aim and fire at one another whenever the gun is loaded, and following UFC 152 on Saturday night, White blasted off a few shots at his former television home.
It all swirls around the Ultimate Fighter, the flagship reality show that first launched on Spike TV in 2005, and the ratings for the 16th season, which had the lowest audience ever for a season premiere of the long running program.
The new version of the Ultimate Fighter airs on Friday nights on FX, as opposed to the Wednesday night slot they had on Spike TV. White explains that FX has so much original programming that they have to put the Ultimate Fighter where it fits best, and right now that’s on Friday nights, but Spike TV doesn’t have room to criticize anybody’s ratings or programming choices.
“You know who keeps leaking this stuff out and all the negativity is ‘Spuke TV (Spike TV). These guys don’t have a (expletive) program on that show to save their life, it’s the worst channel in the history of the world, nothing they do on that channel works,” White stated following UFC 152 on Saturday.
“Where as FX has such a powerful network, they want us on Fridays.”
White says that the Ultimate Fighter debut was still No. 1 in the key demographic of 18-34 year old males, and FX sees the show as a big success in terms of their programming goals for Friday nights.
“That’s a homerun for FX. Is it a homerun for us because it’s not doing the numbers I wish it could do if we were on Tuesday or Wednesday? No, but it’s an absolute homerun for FX,” said White.
The UFC’s contract for past programming on Spike TV runs through the end of 2012, and once it expires, all of the UFC’s library of fights shift back into their control. At that time, Spike TV will then begin airing Bellator Fighting Championships, who they bought a stake in the promotion in 2011.
No matter what happens, don’t expect friendly handshakes and smiles to come from either side in what has become a seemingly volatile relationship between two past business partners.