Speculation continues to run rampant about Spike TV’s future with mixed martial arts now that the UFC is officially departing the network later this year for a major broadcast deal with FOX, FX and Fuel TV.
Most people are predicting Bellator will slide right in and take the baton from the UFC and that fire only intensified this past weekend when Spike TV senior vice president of sports and specials Brian Diamond was spotted at Bellator 48 by a Sherdog reporter. Diamond wouldn’t comment, only saying he was there to “work.” While it may seem like something is definitely brewing, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney told Sherdog that Spike reps attend their shows all the time to assist with production.
“They’ve been at all of our shows,” Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said of Spike honchos. “They’re part of the MTV networks family. Our deal is with MTV Networks, it’s not a deal that we did with MTV 2, or a deal that we did with MTV Tres. So we’ve been able to leverage that expertise.”
Asked if Bellator would need to negotiate a new contract to move to Spike, Rebney responded, “That’s a good question.
“I mean, I don’t know,” he said. “I know what the specifics are of our agreement with MTV2, but from a transitional perspective, our deal is with the bigger corporate entity and they make all of the programming decisions. [I’m a] big fan of Spike and an enormous fan right now of MTV2 as well.”
In a follow-up interview on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani today, Rebney explained that any decision to move Bellator to Spike TV is in the hands of the MTV Networks executives (who control programming on Spike and MTV2), not his.
“Viacom is hugely, hugely successful entertainment empire that has motion pictures and television networks underneath that umbrella and they do extremely well on multiple fronts,” Rebney said Monday on The MMA Hour. “And there’s a lot of really smart people who makes decisions as to who goes where and who does what, when certain programming premieres and when certain programmings does the things that it does.”
“My job is really, truly to build this brand,” Rebney said. “To produce unbelievable shows, deliver them to our partners and try to keep signing world class fighters like the Pat Currans of the world, the [Rene] Nazares and the Mike Chandlers and the Eddies (Alvarez).”
“What happens in the future will ultimately happen in the future wherever it goes, but boy, have we been happy in our place with MTV2, what’s going on and the building out of stronger ratings and bigger numbers and the expansion of the demo,” he says. “It’s just been awesome.”
It seems like a no-brainer to send Bellator to Spike TV, however Dave Meltzer is hearing from Spike that it’s not going to happen. Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen, but the one thing that is certain is Spike’s going to have some wide gaping holes in their programming schedules to fill when the UFC departs the network later this year.