Both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times have reports that NBCUniversal is looking to sell one of its lowest-rated cable channels, G4. The channel now focused on video games could go a whole new direction.
The would-be buyer is reported to be Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), which runs mixed martial arts bouts. The UFC is believed to want to own its own cable network to raise the profile of its fights – and may be talking to other networks as well.
UFC already has a deal to air a show, “The Ultimate Fighter,” on Spike, but the NYT says that expires in six months. UFC is said to want a much higher payment to renew with Spike, so those talks have bogged down. UFC also distributes some events on Comcast-owned Versus.
NBCU apparently wouldn’t sell G4 lock stock and barrel under the deal in negotiation. Rather, UFC would buy a 60% stake. Comcast has historically liked deals where it owns a partial take in a niche cable network, giving it upside while the partner provides the targeted expertise. Presumably NBCU would continue to handle ad sales and distribution of a partially-owned UFC channel.
RBR-TVBR observation: A channel about video games seems like such a narrow niche (and better suited to an Internet site) that you have to wonder why Comcast thought it deserved a cable channel in the first place. While we have no personal interest in a mixed martial arts channel, it certainly would draw those hard-to-grab young male demos (and advertisers).