This will be the fourth serious attempt by a German broadcaster to introduce the wider German public to the sport of mixed martial arts. Dedicated sports channel DSF (“Deutsches SportFernsehen” or German Sports Television) aired a very similar concept to “The Ultimate Fighter” but failed miserably due a lack of German MMA talent, weak production and eventually succumbed to low ratings before the live final was even aired.
The Eurosport network which had some success with the K1 World GP and K1 Max series also failed with its attempt. The networks broadcast of Pride FC events resulted in mass complaints with the channel finally deciding to end its association with MMA in Germany. Exclusive PPV provider Premiere stopped airing live UFC events in 2006 after disappointing PPV buy rates.
Translation provided by Free Fight Videos:
UFC soon on ProSieben
It has been two years since the last time the UFC aired on German TV.
When the two UFC legends Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture met for the 3rd time in February of 2006, German fans had no idea that it would be the last time Premiere would broadcast a UFC event. Shortly there after Premiere decided to end its UFC broadcast which meant German fans had no way of watching the UFC live.
The huge success of the UFC in the US made it possible for Premiere to even consider it for a German audience. It's success can be largely attributed to its popular reality TV show “The Ultimate Fighter”. 16 young aspiring MMA fighters live in a Las Vegas Villa and train under the guidance of Liddell and Couture. The combatants compete for the right to be called “The Ultimate Fighter“ and receive a lucrative UFC contract.
The show game the American public a glimpse at the reality of MMA and the fighters within it. Shortly after the first season MMA emerged as one of the fastest growing sports in the US.
The UFC become the worlds biggest MMA organization last year after it acquired Japanese rival Pride FC. However UFC failed to capitalise from new acquisition after it quickly learned that Japanese market had its own set of rules.
Since then the UFC has been more cautious as it tires to establish a foothold in Europe. Since last year the UFC has held regular events in the UK and soon Ireland too. However it is yet to enter the European mainland. But that is about to change. News came trough today that the UFC had signed a deal with ProSieben.
The UFC will use the tested strategy of easing into a market by informing the audience of the reality of the sport. The UFC will air the first season of the Ultimate Fighter next year. Thereafter the UFC plans to hold its first event in Germany with its success greatly depended on the success of the TV show.
Rumours have been circulating that it will be another meeting between rivals Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture that will headline the show. Since both where coaches in the first season of the ultimate fighter, a fourth fight between the two could be huge success in Germany.
If the UFC’s plan is implemented correctly the general interest in mixed martial arts throughout Europe should increase exponentially in the coming years.
Article by Jens Habermann - Translation by Robert K.