Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter is reporting in his latest edition (subscription required) that there is a bit of uncertainly in future airings of "UFC Prelims Live" on Spike TV following the promotion's decision to air "UFC 125 Prelims Live" on broadcast network ION Television.
Meltzer also notes that the airing of the three UFC 125 preliminary bouts on ION likely was a time buy by the UFC, similar to an infomercial. That would explain the lack of an ION logo on the screen during the presentation of the broadcast where there was one on the screen during the station's airing of the movie "Timecop" immediately preceding the broadcast.
There have been a lot of questions, and no real answers, regarding airing of prelims on Spike after the 1/1 show aired on Ion. What was notable is that in the 9-10 p.m. time slot that night, Spike aired UFC footage head-to-head against the prelims on Ion, although I never saw Spike advertising that. Right now Spike has not made a commitment to airing the prelims on 2/5, and that's a loaded undercard with Michihiro Omigawa vs. Chad Mendes, Kid Yamamoto vs. Demetrious Johnson and Donald Cerrone vs. Paul Kelly, which is a lot higher star power than is on most prelim shows. The deal with Ion was believed to be a late time buy by UFC, not Ion paying a rights fee for UFC, or basically an infomercial deal like UFC does with Fox Sports Net and Comcast Sports Net for some of the Countdown shows airing in prime time the week of the event. That probably explains why Dana White was unhappy about fans complaining about it not being in HDNet when it was the only way he could get it on the air on such short notice to begin with.
Meltzer goes on to ask whether or not airing the "UFC Prelims Live" on television helps increase pay-per-view buys or not. He cites only the "Aldo vs. Faber Prelims Live" broadcast, which featured the classic fight between Leonard Garcia and Chan Sung Jung, as being the only broadcast to help a pay-per-view.
This might not be the best audience to ask this question to, considering many fans visiting this website are likely going to be pay-per-view buyers anyway, but I'm curious if anyone reading this was ever not going to buy a UFC pay-per-view but were convinced to do so after watching the "UFC Prelims Live" broadcast.
In regards to the UFC 126 broadcast, usually these decisions on airing the prelims aren't that far out, but with the UFC and Spike TV playing a bit of hardball these days considering their contract is up at the end of the year, this will be an interested story to follow throughout the year.