Viacom Acquires Bellator, Spike President Says Company Wanted to be “Owners” Not “Renters”
By FCF Staff
Bellator Fighting Championships has taken another step to increase its share in the MMA market, as USA Today is reporting that the media conglomerate Viacom has acquired a majority stake in the growing promotion. No terms of the acquisition were included in the report.
As suspected would eventually be the case for some time now, Spike TV, one of Viacom’s assets, will be begin broadcasting Bellator fights. Due to the fact that Spike still has access to the library of the Ultimate Fighting Championship through 2012, however, Bellator bouts reportedly won’t begin airing on Spike until 2013.
MTV 2, another Viacom company, has been broadcasting main card fights from Bellator’s current season, and the official website of Spike has been streaming the promotion’s preliminary fights.
As a result of Bellator’s ongoing relationship with MTV 2, when the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced a new multi-year broadcasting agreement with FOX Sports this past summer, speculation quickly began as to whether Spike would look to Bellator as a source for new MMA programming.
Kevin Kay, Spike TV’s President was quoted saying in the USA Today report:
“As we realized that our relationship with UFC was likely to come to an end, our Viacom mergers and acquisitions folks, and us, started to have conversations with MTV2 about getting invested in a mixed martial arts promotion and become owners as opposed to renters.”
Despite the sport’s spectacular growth in recent years, MMA has seen its fair share of promotions come and go, and as a result, Bellator’s CEO Bjorn Rebney was understandably happy about securing Viacom’s backing.
“It puts all of those cornerstones of ownership in place for us,” Rebney was quoted saying in the report, which also relayed that he will remain on as the promotion’s CEO. “Which is something that’s been so seriously lacking in the MMA space with so many different companies.”
In addition to broadcasting Bellator’s two seasons annually, Spike will also reportedly air other programs related to the promotion, including highlight shows.
The new agreement with Spike will increase Bellator’s on air accessibility by approximately 20 million homes, in comparison to the promotion’s current broadcast deal with MTV 2.
Bellator has separated itself from other MMA promotion’s by offering a tournament style format, which may see a fighter compete three times over a few months. In addition, due to its ongoing competitions in several different weight classes, Bellator events are held weekly during each season.
Kay complimented Bellator for its unique approach to promoting, stating in the report that it’s a “great way to get the audience invested in the fighters as personalities”, and that in addition, he believes Spike’s involvement will only further each competitor’s appeal.