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Fox Sports 1 reaches crucial carriage deals before launch

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Fox Sports 1 reached carriage deals today with DirecTV, The Dish Network and Time Warner Cable, according to a report today by the Los Angeles Times.

The new station, which debuts on Saturday with more than six hours of UFC programming, including a live event from Boston's TD Garden headlined by Chael Sonnen vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. The UFC takes up all of the new station's first night prime time with 10 live fights airing from 6-11 p.m.

Until these deals were agreed to, the launch of the station was in danger of having very limited availability.

No terms were announced for the three deals, but it will boost the station's availability from about 45 million homes to 85 million homes, out of the approximately 99 million cable and dish households.  There are more than 114 million U.S. television households.

The sides had been reported at an impasse in recent days.  SNL Kagan, a television industry consulting firm reported that the station, in its current identity as The Speed Channel, was getting about 23 cents per subscriber per month from cable systems and satellite companies on average.  FOX was looking to up that to 80 cents per subscriber with the new station.  Major distributors had balked at the price increase.

The negotiations are part of a much larger television story having to do with the sports world.  With stations greatly increasing rights fees for major sports, they are passing the costs on by asking for rising fees from cable and dish companies, who in turn pass on the price increases to consumers.

However, there has been a very slow but steady erosion of cable subscribers over the past two years, so cable companies are attempting to hold the line on prices to consumers, and thus not increase fees paid to stations.