Bellator Fighting Championships begins its live MTV2 broadcast
Bellator 37 two hours early (7 p.m. ET) in order to avoid
head-to-head competition with the UFC 128 “Prelims Live” special
airing at 9 p.m. ET on Spike TV.
The shift is not unexpected: Bellator officials noted soon after
the promotion’s weekly events moved from Thursday to Saturday that
its new time slot would be flexible. The change behooves not only
Bellator, which steers clear of the Zuffa juggernaut, but also MTV2
and Spike, both subsidiaries of media giant Viacom. Rather than
counterprogram one another, the networks will combine for three
hours and a scheduled six bouts leading up to UFC 128’s 10 p.m. ET
For fight fanatics, it looks like a great night, but is five
straight hours of MMA too much for the casual fan to digest?
Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney (Pictured) doesn’t think
“While both shows are MMA, they are different formats,” Rebney told
Sherdog.com recently. “MMA fans will get will get something totally
unique and different from 7:00 to 9:00.”
“In my opinion, MMA’s the greatest sport on earth, so I think five
hours of world class MMA is a very good thing,” explained
Rebney.Â “Fans can tune in for free on MTV2 from 7:00 to 9:00
and watch four great fights in the quarterfinals of our
featherweight tournament featuring, Patricio ‘Pitbull,’ Eric Larkin,
Georgi [Karakhanyan], Wilson [Reis], Daniel [Straus], etc., and
then pay for what looks like it could be a great show on
pay-per-view with the UFC.”
With the recent announcement that the UFC will bump its
pay-per-view broadcasts up an hour earlier starting with UFC 129,
Rebney does not rule out the possibility of Bellator starting even
earlier than 7 p.m., if necessary.
“We will work with our partners at MTV to see where and when
conflicts exist and then determine if we will push any programming
an hour earlier,” said Rebney.
The promotion’s MTV2 debut overlapped with Strikeforce’s “Feijao
vs. Henderson” on Showtime; its March 12 sophomore offering fell on
the only Saturday in March without a UFC or Strikeforce card. This
Saturday will be the first time it runs on the same night as a
major UFC event.
Bellator programming has thus far yielded solid results for its new
channel, averaging 200,000 and 230,000 viewers in its first and
second live broadcasts, respectively, while pulling 241,000 for its
second-week replay. Key advertising demographics in the time slot
have improved by as much as 133 percent, in the case of men ages 25
Rebney credits MTV2’s production, promotion and 80 million-home
reach for the recent boost in Bellator’s profile and viewership,
and feels fans are catching on to his promotion’s unpredictable
grand prix style.
“Our unique tournament format speaks directly to any fan who enjoys
real sports competition where winners move on and losers go home,
whether that’s March Madness, the NBA Playoffs, the NFL playoffs,”
said Rebney. “We are increasing our fan base and attention from not
only the MMA fans but also from sports fans who are converting to
the world’s greatest sport: MMA.
“Also, I believe, one of the reasons that the endemic market
coverage has expanded so dramatically is because the endemic market
media now recognizes that Bellator is here to stay and will only
grow over the coming years.”Reader comments are active below. Chime in with an opinion or
thought by signing in with your Facebook, Twitter, Google or Yahoo!