Fox Sports billed this week's news conference at its Los Angeles headquarters as "one of the biggest announcements" in its 17-year history. Joe Buck taking a leave to heal his ailing voice? Troy Aikman leaving the booth for a comeback try with the Oakland Raiders? Tim McCarver taking a vow of silence?
Nope. Just Fox adding mixed martial arts' Ultimate Fighting Championship to its broadcast lineup.
There will be four live shows a year on Fox, and a UFC reality series that includes live shows on FX. In addition, Fox's Fuel network will offer UFC programming seven nights a week. Price tag? $100 million a year for seven years.
The first Fox show is scheduled for Nov. 12.
Prepare to be bombarded with promotional spots throughout the network's NFL schedule.
Having lost the lockout-canceled Aug. 7 Hall of Fame game that was supposed to feature the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams, NBC went to work with the NFL and came up with Sunday's Cowboys-San Diego Chargers game instead. All that was needed was simply moving the game at Cowboys Stadium from its scheduled Saturday time slot to Sunday night.
And so the Cowboys will get the Al Michaels-Cris Collinsworth treatment in the preseason to go with three regular-season SNF appearances that include the Sept. 11 season opener at the New York Jets.
The only change in NBC's lineup this season will be on the sideline, where ESPN-ex Michele Tafoya is replacing Andrea Kremer.
Unlike the first-string players on the field, an NBC spokesman assured that Michaels, Collinsworth and Tafoya will be on duty for the entire game.
Around the Horn
Here's a prediction on Longhorn Network carriage: sports-minded DirecTV will be the first to reach a carriage agreement, followed by telecoms Verizon and AT&T. ... NBC will broadcast its first NHL game of the season -- Boston Bruins-Detroit Red Wings -- much earlier than it has been. It comes on Thanksgiving Friday. The beginning of a "new tradition" the network claims. NHL games of the week will be offered on Sundays. Most of NBC's hockey coverage will be on cable's Versus/NBC Sports Network. ... Once upon a time, a WBA heavyweight title bout would be a pay-per-view offering on HBO or Showtime. But the likes of Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis are done. Come next Saturday at 5 p.m. EDT, Russia's Alexander Povetkin squares off against Uzbekistan's Ruslan Chagaev in Germany for the vacant WBA title on EPIX. EPIX? It's a 3-year-old premium cable network. Mostly, it's a movie channel. Perhaps there is a seventh Rocky film in the offing here.