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MMA Crossfire – TSN, RDS, and Fight Network score multi-year UFC broadcast deal

The UFC announced today a multi-year agreement with The Sports Network (TSN), Reseau de Sports (RDS) and The Fight Network.

RDS operates primarily in Quebec.

Owned by Bell Media, TSN and RDS will deliver UFC programming across several platforms, including live events, prelim bouts of pay-per-view and UFC Fight Night events, and The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) series.

Bell and Rogers each own 37.5% of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) and are fierce rivals.

The deal marks the end of an era for Sportsnet, who currently broadcasts the bulk of UFC programming in Canada.

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“We are excited to join forces with TSN and RDS to provide UFC’s one-of-a-kind content in English and French, through two of Canada’s most-watched specialty channels. On top of that, we have an agreement with Fight Network that will perfectly complement this coverage,” Tom Wright, UFC Managing Director, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, said. “This is a huge win for Canadian UFC fans as they will have more content on broadcast television than ever before.”

Courtesy RDS.

The Fight Network will broadcast global UFC Fight Night events as well as prelim bouts for domestic non-pay-per-view cards. In addition to the live coverage, they will produce live pre-fight programming, live coverage of press conferences and weigh-ins, post-fight analysis, as well as library programming.

The Fight Network
Courtesy The Fight Network.

Similar to the UFC on FOX in the United States, TSN and RDS will partner a live pre-fight program for pay-per-view events. Supplementary programming will be added across TSN’s five national feeds.

The writing was on the wall when Sportsnet cancelled it’s premier UFC show UFC Connected, earlier this year. Launched in 2009 and hosted by “Showdown” Joe Ferraro, its name changed to UFC Connected from MMA Connected when Rogers secured Canadian UFC programming rights in 2011. It finally became UFC Central in its twilight.

“UFC is a marquee international property with a loyal and engaged Canadian fan base. UFC content and support programming will be a tremendous addition to our slate of championship events,” Shawn Redmond, Vice-President of Programming and Marketing, TSN added. “We are also looking forward to working with Fight Network to showcase original UFC content across our suite of five feeds.”

TSN, RDS and The Fight Network will all join on the sales and marketing side as well.

“We are thrilled to be entering into this prestigious multimedia partnership with UFC and Bell Media’s TSN and RDS, and we look forward to working with our colleagues to grow the UFC’s already significant fan base in Canada as well as helping to build the sport of mixed martial arts at the grassroots level,” Leonard Asper, CEO, Fight Network said.

TSN’s first broadcast will start Saturday January 3rd with Countdown to UFC 182: Jones vs Cormier at 7pm ET on TSN4 and TSN5. The UFC 182 prelims follow at 8pm ET for two hours, with the main card beginning at 10pm ET/7pm PT.

Other programs that will launch on TSN and RDS include UFC Now, UFC Unleashed, UFC Ultimate Insider, Road to the Octagon, event weigh-ins, and press conferences. Many of these are currently on the UFC Fight Pass subscription.

THE CROSSFIRE’S TAKE: Interesting news, but it remains to be seen how accessible the bulk of the programming will be to regular viewers. Fortunately, they have FOX and other models to learn from. It’s early, but this looks to be a big win for all involved. Particularly The Fight Network, who already has ONE FC, BAMMA, and other global programming.

 [email protected]

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Kenai is a former Postmedia Network online news and sports editor. He is the Editor-in-Chief for MMA Crossfire.

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