Sony Pictures Television subsidiary will distribute UFC content
India has long been at the top of the Ultimate Fighting Championship's bucket list. Now that one can be crossed off, as well.
The promotion last week announced a four-year distribution agreement with Multi Screen Media to bring UFC content to India, the world's second most-populous country with more than 1.2 billion people.
MSM is Sony Pictures Television's branch in India. Under the deal, UFC programming will air on Sony SIX, a new sports channel in India that launched just Saturday. Apart from the UFC content it will air, SIX also is expected to air NBA basketball, soccer and Indian Premier League cricket. The plan is for SIX to air not only live UFC events, but other taped programs, as well, from the UFC's library.
"When we went to India over a year ago, I felt the market held enormous potential for the UFC," UFC chairman Lorenzo Fertitta said in a statement. "India has a long history of martial arts and traditional wrestling like Kushti. Indian athletes have also demonstrated world-class levels in combat sports, as evidenced by the country’s 2008 Olympic medalists in wrestling and boxing."
India's emergence onto the MMA scene has come fairly quickly. On Saturday, the upstart Super Fight League held its second event and featured several notable fighters, including former UFC fighters Todd Duffee, Neil Grove and Paul Kelly, as well as Alexander Shlemenko and Ikuhisa Minowa. Just how soon the UFC might hold an event in India is not known, but the groundwork has been laid with the new broadcast deal.
"I’ve been saying for a few years that India would be next, and it was just a matter of finding the right partner in the market," UFC president Dana White said. "MSM has been a pioneer in India, broadcasting new sports franchises like the IPL. We’ve got big plans for India, and MSM couldn’t be a better partner."
"We are delighted to be bringing the best of the sport of mixed martial arts to India," MSM CEO Man Jit Singh said. "Mixed martial arts requires tremendous physical conditioning, skill and strategy, and we hope it will be an inspiration to young India. We hope the programming that will be premiered on our sports channel, SIX, will motivate a new generation to compete on the world stage in one of the fastest growing sports."