Viacom Buys Majority Stake In Bellator, Will Begin Airing Fights In '13
Viacom, the parent company of MTV Networks, “bought a majority stake in Bellator Fighting Championships and will start airing the promotion’s bouts on Spike” in ’13, according to Sergio Non of USA TODAY. Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said that the two companies have “had ongoing talks for about a year as they finished up various deals, and over the past month finally reached the point where they could announce the news.” Bellator is the “No. 2 promotion in mixed martial arts behind market leader Zuffa, owner of UFC and Strikeforce.” Rebney said that the “experience and cachet of Spike in broadcasting mixed martial arts over the last six years makes it the ideal partner for Bellator.” Non notes Spike became “the first channel to embrace the sport when it started airing Zuffa’s programming” in ’05. Since Spike’s “agreement to carry new material from UFC ends in December, the channel still has rights to the promotions library through 2012.” Spike TV President Kevin Kay said that the fights from Bellator “won’t air on Spike until 2013.” Kay added that “owning its own promotion allows Spike to take a longer view and commits it more firmly to the sport.” Non notes the “overall reputation for Bellator’s assembly of talent remains far behind UFC,” but adding Viacom’s “financial muscle could help Bellator retain its biggest stars, or at least make it much harder for others to sign them away.” Moving to Spike “all but guarantees a much larger audience for Bellator.” Spike said that it is “available to almost 100 million cable and satellite subscribers, compared to roughly 80 million for MTV2” (USATODAY.com, 10/26).
IT'S SHOW TIME: UFC will make “its official Fox debut this Sunday, Oct. 30” airing “‘UFC Primetime,’ a one-hour special that previews the organization’s first UFC on Fox event, which is set for Nov. 12.” The special airs “either immediately before or after the NFL on Fox game assigned to your given market that day” (MMAJUNKIE.com, 10/25).