Fox Sports 1 will launch on August 17, with a big part of their opening day programming being dedicated to the UFC and their show, UFC Fight Night 26, from Boston on Saturday night.
The new all-sports destination is Fox's answer to other networks like ESPN, and the UFC will play an integral part in the move with a ton of original programming and a slew of live event cards filling many hours on the station.
The only problem right now is Fox Sports 1 still hasn't secured broadcasting deals with many of the top cable and satellite providers with time counting down until Saturday's launch date.
UFC president Dana White addressed the issue as much as he could during a media conference call on Monday, leaving his faith in the executives at Fox to get a deal done in time for all major distributors to have access to Fox Sports 1.
This is what these guys do, this is what Fox does—they build networks and they negotiate with these different systems. A lot of times these things go right down to the wire. Am I worried about it? Not one bit. I'm not worried about it, I'm not thinking about it, it's not my concern. I have no control over this thing, it's not what I do, so whatever happens, happens this week.
According to a report from Sports Business Daily on Monday, seven distributors, including Comcast, Cablevision, Charter, Cox, Verizon, AT&T and Suddenlink, have reached deals with Fox to carry Fox Sports 1 from the day it launches. Those seven companies make up about 45 million subscribers.
The problem is Fox still hasn't secured deals with three of the largest carriers including DirecTV, Dish Network and Time Warner Cable. Those three alone make up for 54 percent of the subscriber based television market.
Now, it has to be noted that many of the deals between networks and distributors often go down to the wire with contracts being secured sometimes hours before a broadcast happens.
In 2011, DirecTV and FX went to battle over broadcast rights with both taking to the airwaves and the internet to air out their grievances. DirecTV had until Nov. 1 to settle the issue, or FX would have been taken off their satellite package. With just hours to go until the deadline, executives from FX and DirecTV reached an agreement on a new deal.
On the bad side, however, there is still an ongoing battle currently between CBS and Time Warner Cable where their negotiations broke down so badly that the cable provider yanked the stations along with Showtime networks (who are owned by CBS) from their network.
Time Warner removed CBS and Showtime on August 2 and, as of now, the blackout remains in effect. The 10-day battle continues with both parties still in negotiations to try and resolve their issues.
So at this point, it's unknown if Fox Sports 1 will launch without those three providers, but all hope is not lost because these kinds of negotiations are common and often come down to the last minute.
Fox Sports 1 launches on Saturday, August 17 so there's still time to get the deals done as negotiations continue between all parties.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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