By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
The UFC's first year with Fox and their family of networks has brought about mixed results for MMA's leading promotion. However, big changes are coming in 2013 and beyond for Fox that could see the UFC as a pivotal piece of the puzzle.
It's been widely reported that the Fox-owned Speed Channel will be rebranded as Fox Sports 1 next year, with a planned August launch date, but that's not the only change coming.
According to a recent report from The Sports Business Journal, Fox will be rebranding Fuel TV as well. Featured in around 45 million less homes than Speed, Fuel TV is expected to be rebranded as Fox Sports 2.
It's not yet known just what role the UFC and their programming will have on each network, but with new, clear branding and an increased focus as dedicated sports networks, Fox Sports 1 and 2 are sure to be home to much of what the UFC will be planning over the next several years.
Penick's Analysis: It's tough to say what type of impact this rebranding will have until it's in effect. It's certainly easier to sell casual fans on a network by having a clear sports designation to it, as opposed to what is now a misnomer network name in Fuel TV. They'll also be hoping the rebranded name makes it more attractive to television providers who haven't picked up Fuel TV just yet, because it will sell better as a package for Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2. But again, any impact will take time, because it's going to take time to reeducate television watchers as to which network features what programming, and that's one of the issues the UFC faced this year with programming all over the place. Still, this should be a very interesting time for both Fox and the UFC, and it will start coming together throughout next year.
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