UFC Signs Multinetwork Rights Deal in Canada

UFC Fight Cage - H 2012
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

UFC Fight Cage - H 2012

TSN, RDS and Fight Network are the new homes for the MMA genre after rival Sportsnet put its chips on the NHL

Canadian TV's mixed martial arts ring just got more crowded.

Domestic TV sports channel Sportsnet has left the octagon after inking a CAN$5.2 billion (US$4.47 billion) Canadian rights deal with the NHL earlier this year. That's left rival sports channel TSN, its French-language counterpart RDS and Fight Network to sign a new Canadian rights deal with the UFC.

The multiyear deal will see TSN and RDS air the reality series The Ultimate Fighter, preliminary round fights of UFC pay-per-view events and the UFC Fight Night offerings. In addition, Fight Network will get all international UFC Fight Night events and preliminary bouts for domestic non-pay-per-view fight cards.

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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 in a statement.

The UFC managed to muscle its way into Canada after initial opposition from some provinces, including Ontario, the country's largest media market. The Canadian rights deal will also see TSN and RDS partner with Fight Network to produce an original live pre-fight program before pay-per-view events.

With TSN having lost most of its pro hockey TV coverage to rival Sportsnet and its NHL broadcast partners, the sports network can now spread the UFC programming across its five channel feeds and still have room left over for NFL, NBA, Major League Soccer, golf, NASCAR, tennis and college basketball coverage.