In a stunning announcement this morning, Versus.com has outlined their multi-year contract extension with Zuffa LLC, the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC).
As part of VERSUS’ renewal deal, the network will air seven live WEC fights and two live UFC events in 2010, marking the first time that live UFC events will air on a national sports cable network. Also included in the renewal deal are digital media rights, giving VERSUS.com the ability to air one non-televised fight and behind-the-scenes footage from each live WEC Event. Details regarding when the first live UFC event will air on the network will be announced in the near future.
This could be a tough pill to swallow if you have a metal pole in a bucket of concrete for your television needs.
World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) events were yanked from DirecTV after the Satellite television provider dropped the Versus channel from its current line-up (though it's still available on the DISH Network).
DirectTV carried the sports programming network up until midnight of August 31, when its current contract expired. Versus is owned by Cable television conglomerate Comcast and demanded a fee increase under a proposal for a new agreement.
While both sides claim to still be in contract negotiations, DirecTV balked at the fee increase, citing a hike in fees that were not consistent with the return for carrying the channel.
Perhaps they'll change their tune when the MMA community tunes in en masse for a Versus-only UFC card?
And what about the "good terms" the UFC and current cable partner Spike TV were on? It's going to be interesting to see how the television landscape changes with this new agreement.