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FOX Executive Talks About Why UFC Will Succeed On Network

FOX Sports Co-President Eric Shanks has become a very central figure in the network signing the UFC to a television deal.

Shanks, who appeared on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Rewind” Show recently, believes that his company knows how to help push MMA to the mainstream level that other sports such as the NFL, NASCAR and MLB have reached thanks to the help of FOX.

FOX has splashed graphics advertising UFC on FOX 1 during recent NFL games already this season, as heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will defend his title against Junior dos Santos on November 12.

“The very day that we announced this deal, we had a preseason NFL football game and we ran two 10-second promos for the UFC on FOX coming this fall in those games that night. We were prepared to put our money where our mouth is,” Shanks said. “In the highest-rated telecast of the night in the country, we started promoting a deal that we just announced that day. We’re excited about some of the ideas that have been percolating here internally about taking the FOX attitude and marrying it with the UFC in a marketing fashion.”

Shanks knows that building an even bigger fan base is the way for the UFC to be successful on network TV, so educating the casual observer in a fun way is a top priority.

“The approach of UFC on the FOX Network is going to be the same. If you come on the air and you do full-page graphics and animations on what is a triangle, I think you’re going to hear the TV click off all around the country. Through the course of the broadcast you educate people, but I think the main thing is, OK, No. 1, on November 12, why should I care about this sport? Why is it here? Why is it so popular?” Shanks said. “And then, who’s going to win the fight? Why should I care about these two fighters? And then I think that Joe Rogan and (Mike) Goldberg, as the fight goes along, that’s when you start to get a little bit more of that information and technique, is in the course of the fight itself and the analysis of the fight.”

UFC on FOX 1 will feature the Velasquez-dos Santos bout exclusively, while plans to run either fights off the prelims or a highlight reel of those pre-show fights is still be determined.