Perhaps in advance of the announcement of Fox Sports One (and potentially Fox Sports Two), Comcast has announced an agreement with Fox to add live and on demand programming from a total of 20 channels, including Fuel TV, which had not been widely carried nationally by Comcast prior to the agreement. Fuel, which has been branded as the home of the UFC since the MMA behemoth's debut on the Fox family of networks in September 2011, is expected to be rebranded as Fox Sports Two in the coming months following the rebranding of Speed as Fox Sports One.
The agreement affects nearly 22 million homes, increasing Fuel's current output by over 60%. It will surely help the UFC's ratings on Fuel, which have been impressive considering how small the distribution for Fuel is currently. The on demand part of the agreement will also allow Comcast to put various shows from FX and Fuel (among others) on their Xfinity on demand lineup, which could include UFC Tonight, UFC Fight Nights on FX and Fuel, and The Ultimate Fighter.
Going past the fight game, the Comcast/Fox agreement will help Fox Sports One and Two have a much stronger opening position after the rebrand this summer. The rest of the dominoes will begin to fall once customers not using DirecTV or Comcast have issues viewing more mainstream sports, and other cable companies start to crack under the pressure and add the rebranded Fuel due to its wider appeal.
It's not currently known when exactly Comcast will begin to carry Fuel, but it's expected to be in the next couple of weeks.
But here's a bit of an oddity in relation to this agreement: why is Comcast essentially helping NBC's competition in Fox? After Tuesday's announcement that Comcast would acquire the rest of NBC from GE, this agreement with Fox is helping them and hurting NBC Sports Network. Now, Comcast can aid themselves in different ways, like banishing Fuel away from the other sports channels on their cable lineup, but they're giving fans other options aside from NBC Sports Network. Perhaps Comcast will make that up to NBCSN and give them a boost in other ways.