Cinedigm pacts with Ultimate Fighting Championship

Cinedigm has pacted with Ultimate Fighting Championship to bring four UFC events a year to theaters in live 3D.

Initial event in the series, set for Feb. 4, will mark the first 3D pay-per-view for UFC.

The card has not yet been determined.

February’s event will be shown in 120 theaters in the U.S. — a good starting point for the series, Cinedigm chairman-CEO Chris McGurk told Variety. “The important thing is to fill up those theaters, and I don’t think that’s going to be a problem,” he said.

Cinedigm’s theatrical alternative content strategy includes building networks of theaters with appointment programming.

“Regardless of the network you have, the most important thing is to be providing content avid audiences want to see in a social setting. UFC, the way it’s exploded in the last few years, is the perfect content to put in theaters live and in 3D,” McGurk said.

Another pillar of Cinedigm’s strategy is building up weekday theater attendance, which is very low. The initial UFC event is on a Saturday night. “When you have events like this, league sports, boxing, UFC, the thing is to put it in there,” McGurk said. “It doesn’t matter what day.”

Cinedigm did not disclose which theater chains are going to carry the event, but McGurk said, “It’ll be broad-based both geographically and in the exhibition footprint. There’s a lot of demand in exhibition for this kind of event.”

UFC has a global following; it’s seen in more than 130 countries and territories, going to 597 million homes in 21 languages. It already produces more than a dozen live pay-per-view events each year and is expanding its broadcast presence. In August it announced a seven-year pact with Fox; the Fox network will air four fights a year starting Nov. 12. In the spring UFC’s reality show, “The Ultimate Fighter,” moves from Spike to FX. Fuel TV will also air UFC content.

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