According to a press release sent today, Bellator Fighting Championships will broadcast its second and third seasons on FOX Sports Net, NBC and Telemundo through a unique and landscape-altering alliance. Bellator’s first-of-its-kind, tournament-based mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion will be available nationwide for 24 weeks in 2010 to 112 million homes through NBC, 82 million homes through FOX Sports Net (FSN) and its regional sports network affiliates, as well as to 62 million homes through Telemundo.
The historic agreement, which was announced today by Bellator CEO/Founder Bjorn Rebney and executives from FOX Sports Net and NBC, is among the largest in MMA history and promises to introduce Bellator, and the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., to millions of new fans.
“Since our launch earlier this year, there has been an overwhelming demand from MMA fans nationwide for us to broadcast our events live and through a widely available platform,” Rebney said. “We are thrilled to have signed this groundbreaking agreement with FOX Sports Net, NBC and Telemundo, which will bring our unique and exciting brand of tournament-based MMA events to a dramatically expanded audience of both English- and Spanish-speaking fans.”
Under this new multi-tiered alliance, Bellator events will be distributed live in primetime on Thursday nights beginning April 8, 2010 on FSN and its regional sports network affiliates. The top moments from each week’s live events will then be condensed into an action-packed 30-minute highlight show, broadcast every successive Saturday night in the all night daypart on NBC, and a one-hour highlight show will air in Spanish on Telemundo every Saturday night from midnight to 1 a.m. Each of the three broadcasts will be aired in high definition.
“We’re thrilled to bring Bellator’s brand of MMA to our viewers. We believe the quality of the events and the passion of these fighters will resonate with our audience,” said David Sussin, Vice President of Programming, FOX Sports Net.
“Mixed martial arts has established its position by becoming one of the fastest-growing sports. Bellator and its real sport tournament format has proven it can deliver some of the finest and most intense action on broadcast television,” said Jerry Petry, Executive Vice President, NBC Universal Television.
Bellator Season 2 premieres Thursday, April 8, 2010, and runs for 12 successive weeks. Season 3 kicks off Thursday, August 12, 2010, and also runs for 12 successive weeks. Each season follows Bellator’s electrifying tournament format, where fighters in each of Bellator’s weight divisions determine their own destiny to become Champion or No. 1 Challenger. Event venues, sponsors, featured fighters and other details on Seasons 2 and 3 will be announced over the coming months.
Originally, Bellator was supposed to return about two months ago, but rumors of their TV deal falling through were apparently true. On the plus side, it looks like they got a better deal with more dedicated mainstream networks. ESPN seemed puzzled with what to make of Bellator and was using it more as a platform for gaining Latin American viewers. This new deal has targeted the existing MMA audience first and is going after the new viewership second, which I believe is a much smarter business tactic.
I have been to two Bellator shows live and enjoyed them very much and look forward to seeing more of them. Have you guys been to any Bellator shows or would you go to any?