It’s been one of the worst kept secrets in TV land, but Fuel TV is officially going to get the re-branding treatment on Aug. 17 when parent company Fox launches Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2.
The promotional focus has been almost entirely on the launch of Fox Sports 1, which itself is a re-branding of Fox’s Speed Channel. Fox Sports 2 has been getting the soft launch treatment, since it plays a supporting role to Fox Sports 1’s lead.
Just as it has been under the Fuel TV brand, Fox Sports 2, however, will continue to be a bastion of UFC programming from live fights to weigh-ins to UFC Ultimate Insider and more.
In fact, the UFC has already noted that UFC Fight Night: Bisping vs. Munoz, which was recently confirmed for Oct. 26 in Manchester, England, would be broadcast on Fox Sports 2.
Fuel TV received a tremendous boost in viewership with the addition of the UFC to its action-sports programming. Even the network’s recent UFC 163 shoulder programming, while producing somewhat lackluster ratings on FX, did well on Fuel TV.
The live UFC 163 Post-Fight show, which aired at 12:56 a.m. ET, averaged a 0.17 HH rating or 112,000 total viewers and a 0.34 Men 18-49 rating.
In laymen’s terms: that was a huge draw for Fuel TV in the late night hours of a Saturday night and represented considerable growth over comparable programming in the previous year.
The Men 18-49 demographic, which is a key advertiser category, was up 143-percent over the 2012 UFC Post-Fight show average.
It also represented the final UFC Post-Fight show on Fuel TV, since the network will transition to Fox Sports 2 on Aug. 17.
Fuel TV will broadcast its final weigh-in show on Friday, Aug. 16, leading up to the UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen launch programming on Fox Sports 1 on Saturday.
Fox executives expect big things with the UFC as cornerstone programming on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, and well they should. The UFC was a savior for Fuel TV, which struggled to attain viewing audiences in the tens of thousands, let alone the hundreds of thousands that UFC programming has regularly drawn since it’s January 2012 launch.
Led by the UFC, Fuel TV finished 2012 No. 1 among all ad supported cable networks in year-to-year percentage growth among Households, Total Viewers and Men 18-49 during Total Day and Prime Time. That growth continued in 2013.
Fuel TV’s ten highest-rated and most-watched telecasts are all UFC programs, led by UFC on Fuel TV 8 on March 2, 2013, which was the network’s highest-rated and most-watched telecast of all-time, averaging 485,000 viewers.
With the Fox Sports brand attached to UFC programming, whether on Fox Sports 1 or Fox Sports 2, and the massive promotional push that Fox is giving to the networks that it hopes will rival ESPN's offerings, the growth is almost assured to continue.