It had been so long since Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney teased their new television deal, I was beginning to wonder if it had fallen through. Well, it didn’t. Today, Bellator announced they have secured television deals with not one network, but three — Fox Sports Net, NBC and Telemundo — which probably explains why it took so long to announce.
Here’s a breakdown of their “landscape-altering” broadcast alliance for seasons two and three.
- Fox Sports Net, 82 million homes, live primetime events on Thursday nights, beginning April 8, 2010, available in HD
- NBC, 112 million homes, 30-minute highlight show, every Saturday night the week of an event, 24 weeks in 2010, available in HD
- Telemundo, 62 million homes, one-hour highlight show in Spanish, every Saturday night the week of an event Midnight-1AM, available in HD
Season two will kick off on April 8, 2010 and season three on August 12, 2010. Both seasons will run for 12 consecutive weeks and will follow the tournament format they used in season one.
“It was my dream scenario. I had this triangle in mind of what I wanted accomplished. I wanted a live weekly broadcast for two hours in prime time so people could see what we’re all about. I wanted it easy to find, and FSN accomplishes that…I also wanted a network play. What we ended up with is a rock-em’, sock-em’ highlights show on NBC similar to ‘The NFL Today,’ for lack of a better comparison. The third part of the triangle then was a Spanish-language option. The Spanish-language audience responded just magically last season … and we wanted to bring that back to those fans…Without naming names, this sport is littered with the carcasses of organizations that cut (broadcast) deals that just didn’t work for the businesses. If you’re not cash-flow positive pretty quickly, you’re not going to last. With our deal, I wanted to assure not only that we would have seasons three and four of Bellator but also seasons five, six and so on. … My focus wasn’t the next year or two; it was the next five, 10, 15 and all the way down the line.”
Update: Bjorn Rebney spoke to Fanhouse about the tournament structures for seasons two and three, what their champions will do while the season two tournament plays out and what the pay structure looks like.
I’m keeping the guys busy. Joe just fought in Northern California and will fight again in January. Eddie fights Sunday in Dream. Hector and Lyman will fight again soon as well. Once our second season starts we’ll put them in superfights, and during Season 2 we’ll crown four tournament winners in featherweight, lightweight, welterweight and middleweight, and then we’ll have those tournament winners fight our champions in Season 3. In Season 3 we’ll also do tournaments at heavyweight, light heavyweight and probably bantamweight.
Our Season 3 championship tournaments will keep the same pay structure, where the winner gets $175,000. Our Season 2 challenger tournaments will still pay the winners more than $100,000 but it won’t be the $175,000 that guys win for winning a championship tournament. When you’re fighting for our title, you get more.
Full press release after the jump.
CHICAGO (October 20, 2009) - 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.
Bellator first burst onto the MMA scene in April 2009 and with its groundbreaking single-elimination tournament format quickly established itself as one of the sport’s most exciting promotions, crowning champions in four weight divisions.
From day one, Bellator developed a tremendous following among Spanish-speaking MMA fans-a following that stands to grow dramatically through Bellator’s new alliance with Telemundo, the second-largest Spanish-language network in the U.S.
Bellator (Latin for “warrior”) is the only nationally televised professional MMA promotion in the United States that gives fighters the ability to control their own destiny. At Bellator, in each weight class, top fighters from around the world compete to determine who is crowned Champion and who becomes No. 1 Challenger. Bellator, where fighters become warriors and warriors become legends. Network negotiations were coordinated by Carr-Hughes Productions, KC Productions of Saratoga Springs, NY and Alpaytac Marketing Communications/Public Relations of Chicago, IL .
For more information, please visit Bellator.com.
About Bellator Fighting Championships
Bellator Fighting Championships is a Mixed Martial Arts promotional company with offices in Los Angeles and Chicago. Bellator’s founder/CEO, Bjorn Rebney, is an experienced fighting sports and entertainment professional with a deep commitment to the purity and integrity of the sport of MMA and its athletes. Bellator Fighting Championships’ executive team is comprised of top industry professionals in the areas of live event production, television production, fighter relations, venue procurement, sponsorship creation/development, international licensing, marketing, advertising, publicity and commission relations.
About FOX Sports Net (FSN)
FSN is the nation’s leading provider of local sports. FSN’s 16 owned-and-operated regional networks and its affiliated networks reach more than 82 million homes across the U.S. FSN serves as the TV home to nearly two-thirds of all MLB, NHL and NBA teams based in the United States. FSN also produces close to 5,000 live local events each year, including more than 1,600 in high definition. In addition to its thousands of home team games and a wide variety of locally produced sports programs, FSN televises national sports events and programs, including Pac-10 and ACC basketball and Pac-10 and Big 12 football.
The NBC Television Network’s strength derives from combining NBC’s strong national identity and programming with the local identity and programming of its affiliates in communities across America. The sale of advertising time enables the NBC Television Network to provide programming to the public free of charge. The NBC Television Network broadcasts approximately 5,000 hours of TV programming each year, transmitting to more than 200 affiliated stations across the United States. These independently owned affiliates then broadcast the NBC signal to an estimated 99 percent of all homes in the United States with television sets.