Hiestand Weighs In On MMA

May 28, 2008

Influential media maven Michael Hiestand’s most recent column casts an eye toward mixed martial arts and EliteXC’s network debut. Hiestand is the the sports media columnist for USA Today, a column widely read by those in the television business and seen as a taste maker in the industry. In what can best be described as a fairly even handed take on MMA’s broadcast debut, Hiestand illuminates the mindset of Network execs in giving MMA the greenlight:

The debut of CBS’ four-part CBS EliteXC Saturday Night Fights (9 ET) is just the latest experiment of taking something that’s drawing niche audiences on cable — such as Arena Football or so-called action sports — and seeing what it can do for broadcasters. It’s also another attempt — such as NBC’s quickly defunct XFL and ABC’s expanded prime-time Saturday college football — to give broadcasters some pop on TV’s least-watched night, especially with the largely absent young viewers advertisers covet.

The column does give voice to those with negative views of the sport on broadcast television (Redstone, Goren), but generally puts the sport over as legitimate and not that different than some of the reality programming offered at the networks.

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