Bellator move to Spike TV imminent?

September 11, 2011

MMA Junkie reported this past week citing industry sources that Bellator’s move to Spike TV will occur although no one knows when it will happen. The move will affect the UFC as much as it will Bellator.

While Bellator has indicated its contentment with staying at Viacom-owned MTV2, it also owns Spike TV and has experience promoting MMA (i.e., UFC). So, a switch to a network with more viewers (80 million vs. 100 million). makes sense. With Spike.com streaming Bellator fights this past Saturday, we may have seen the beginning of the Bellator move to Spike TV. In addition to the online fights, Spike.com has produced a fall preview which foreshadows the move to TV.

This week, Bellator was advertised during TNA Wrestling as a live voiceover during a wrestling match. In addition, Eddie Alvarez made an appearance on the wrestling show. A Bellator on Spike.com logo was visible in the bottom right hand corner of the screen right above the Spike logo during Spike shows.

Via MMA Junkie:

Spike TV is far more visible and in 100 million homes (compared to MTV2’s 80 million). Additionally, with Spike TV’s marketing muscle (which has helped promote 14 seasons of “The Ultimate Fighter” and dozens of live events) and an upgrade to a high-definition channel, Bellator could easily grow its audience exponentially. After all, even the lowest-rated UFC-Spike TV events score between 1.5 million and two million viewers.

In addition to the inevitable move, it identifies the situation the UFC is in as Spike TV has rights to the UFC library until 2012 even though live events will end this year.

So, the UFC could face the potential of counter-programming with its own product. This could prove embarrassing if, like in June, the UFC on Versus live event lost out in viewership to UFC reruns on Spike TV. Certainly the UFC would hate to see this happen with a new partner in Fox.

It could purchase the rights to the library but that would allow for its biggest competitor to begin on Spike TV. This could pose a problem as well. An industry source states that most people are not aware of the shakeup in networks and MMA organizations and would turn to Spike TV not knowing the UFC moved to the Fox Family.

Via MMA Junkie:

“The last thing you want is confusion in the marketplace,” the source said. “You have to spend a lot of money to let people know where you’re airing. People are creatures of habit. They don’t read stuff for the most part. They only know the channel it’s on, and a lot of people don’t know (about the UFC’s move to FX).”

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting to see what Spike TV (and Viacom for that matter) does in the coming year. Does it bring over Bellator immediately or utilize the UFC library as a counterprogramming tool while streaming fights on Spike.com? Will it offer up the UFC library to the UFC so that it can bring over Bellator? Spike TV cannot play UFC reruns and live events of another MMA organization.

The bigger business move will be to see if the UFC tries to purchase the rights of its library to prevent Spike TV from the possibility of counterprogramming. Or, does it allow Spike TV to show the library to keep Bellator off of Spike TV.

9 Responses to “Bellator move to Spike TV imminent?”

  1. mmapayoutReader on September 11th, 2011 12:53 PM

    I think it is fairly obvious what the UFC will do. They will pay top dollar and purchase the rights to its library.
    a) the UFC has historically been protective of its content
    b) it protects their new partner, Fox
    c) the UFC has historically been willing to throw money to solve their problems, even if the problem isn’t that big. PRIDE, Strikeforce. Some might say they are willing to overpay.
    d) The UFC’s other playbook options aren’t available. They have no options to play dirty and mean. They can’t counter program. They can’t sue.

  2. juan on September 11th, 2011 1:18 PM

    Wait, what library does Spike own that UFC doesn’t? And does Spike own this library forever? Or just until the end of 2012?

  3. Chris on September 11th, 2011 2:23 PM

    I dont think countering the UFC with UFC hurts the UFC at all.

    Yes anyone who isnt stupid knows that when Spike countered Versus with that Nate/Palhares fight and it did like 750k compared to 720k viewers for the live Versus show, we all know that those people turned on Spike thinking that was the live event.

    yes its not good for the UFC but is it really that bad? Its still 1.5 mill people combined watched UFC that night so i dont think its that bad.

    Spike spending another year countering UFC only builds the UFC brand more, it only promotes the UFC brand more on Spike and what happens come 2013 when Bellator is now moved over? You just spent another year promoting the UFC as the top brand.

    If you were Spike they would probalby rather get Bellator on Spike now, get a whole year with Bellator.

    Plus this isnt Versus, UFC on Fox or FX is alot bigger then Versus, I think some will be confused and still think UFC is on SPike but really all Dana white has to do is go on a Fox show in front of millions of people, take 30 seconds talking with Rogan and say we are on Fox/FX now, anything you see on SPike tv is old, they are trying to confuse you, nothing on Spike tv is new, dont be tricked into it, all new live uFC is now with Fox and FX and 5, 6, 7 or however many millions of people who will be watching UFC on FOx will now know whats up.

    if thats Spike plan to counter all UFC shows, all TUF shows I think it could work for a little while but people are eventually gonna realize they are airing old shit.

  4. BrainSmasher on September 11th, 2011 4:02 PM

    If think the UFC should not buy the rates from Spike. If Spike wants to give the UFC another channel to get their brand and product on for a year in addition to Fuel, Fox, FX, etc. Just doing them a favor. If Spike isnt countering them with their own show it will be with another promotion. So why pay big money to get less exposure. Spike will never get better ratings than the UFC while on Fox.

    I think Spike isnt allowed to show another promotion on TV this year because of their UFC contract. That is why they are on Spike.com IMO. Who knows if the contract prevents them from airing Bellator next year. If it does then that is even more reason to not buy it out.

    How woud spike have the air time to push Bellator if they are showing UFC programs all day? Do they really want to take up their entire schedule with fighting for spite or to further promote the UFC brand rather than the Bellator and Spike brand?

  5. BrainSmasher on September 11th, 2011 4:05 PM

    That said if the UFC can buy out the contract cheap then it should. But it sounds like Spike is really trying to milk them on it. The fact that it is even public shows they are trying to leverage it for big bucks. If not they would have went to the UFC and said “hey, lets just go out separate ways and work out a deal that works for both”. It would be over and private.

  6. Jack Frost on September 11th, 2011 4:17 PM

    Can Spike go ahead and sign Bellator now or do they have to wait until the UFC officially leaves? For example, UFC signed with FOX and FX while still officially with Spike. Can Spike do the same thing with Bellator?

  7. Machiel Van on September 11th, 2011 5:45 PM

    Jack,

    In Spike’s contract with the UFC, their is a clause that states that they will lose the rights to the UFC/SPIKE video library if they sign a new contract with a competitor before the deal expires at the end of 2012. So they do need to decide whether to utilize the video library while they still can or move on and sign a deal with a different MMA promotion.

    juan,

    The video library in question includes all of the UFC content that has aired live on Spike TV (Ultimate Fight Nights, Ultimate Fighter Finales/episodes, UFC Primetime, UFC 75, 89, 120, 122 and the upcoming 138, as well as episodes of UFC Unleashed and Ultimate Knockouts).

  8. Steve on September 12th, 2011 6:39 PM

    So let me get this straight … Spike’s big threat is that they are going to give the UFC library a ton of airtime?

    LOL

    Zuffa won’t pay a dime for it. Keeping Bellator off Spike for another year is a bigger win for them than controlling their back library in 2012. If Spike really wants to get money from them, they should threaten to bury the library for a year. That might get Zuffa’s attention.

  9. Nick on September 14th, 2011 8:37 AM

    How about Spike? I personally think that UFC reruns are probably far more profitable if they are running them for free than anything they get from Bellator. Even though it is probably helping to build a brand they have lost, anything UFC will do better ratings than the best Bellator can offer.

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