March 20, 2017
Bellator returns to PPV with Chael Sonnen-Wanderlei Silva as the main event. The event will take place on June 24th at Madison Square Garden in New York.
It will be the second PPV in the company’s history. In May 2014, Bellator 120 featured Rampage Jackson-King Mo and Michael Chandler-Eddie Alvarez. The event drew 100,000 PPV buys.
Sonnen is coming off a loss to Tito Ortiz this past January in Los Angeles. Silva has yet to fight for the promotion as he is serving a three-year suspension retroactive to May 24, 2014. He will be eligible for reinstatement to May 25, 2017.
The Associated Press first reported the event.
Bellator intends to debut some of its free agent signees in New York as well.
The event comes a week after a UFC Fight Night in Singapore and two weeks before International Fight Week.
The announcement is a departure from the company intending to stay on cable TV. Sonnen-Silva is a long-time grudge match dating back several years and if the two remain healthy and available, the promotion and fight should draw more than the last time Bellator was on PPV. The news comes on the same day that Ryan Bader officially signed with the promotion. Expect Bader, Rampage and other former UFC fighters to be on the card.
March 18, 2017
A Los Angeles Federal Magistrate Judge has transferred Bellator’s Motion to Quash Zuffa’s Subpoenas to the Nevada court hearing the antitrust lawsuit. The decision to transfer venue was made on Friday March 17th and done without oral argument.
Citing “exceptional circumstances” pursuant to the federal rules governing subpoenas, it determined that the “interests in favor of transfer outweigh the interests of Bellator in obtaining local resolution of the subpoena-related motions.”
Bellator, a non-party in the antitrust lawsuit, sought relief from a UFC subpoena requesting certain documents including information related to specific fighter contracts including information related to negotiations, terminations, cancellations and transfer of contracts. Bellator has provided the UFC with documents but reached an impasse on certain information.
The federal magistrate, which ordered the transfer, pointed to the looming May 1, 2017 fact discovery deadline, the Nevada court issued the protective order and the Nevada magistrate had been active in previous discovery as reasons for the transfer.
Moreover, the court determined that Bellator would not be inconvenienced by having to appear in Nevada citing the possibility of appearing telephonically. Alternatively, the proximity between California and Nevada would make the travel negligible.
If you were to ask me, it appears that California did not want anything to do with the Motion. Rather, it kicked it back to Nevada to deal with the details of the Motion and the lawsuit. In most instances, Bellator did the appropriate thing in filing for relief where their business is primarily located but the court found reasons to negate the inconvenience. For the UFC, it’s a win as the issue will go before the magistrate that has been dealing with the UFC and plaintiffs since the case was transferred from a Norther California federal court back in June 2015.
MMA Payout will have more on this. Stay tuned.
March 9, 2017
Zuffa has filed its opposition to Bellator’s Motion to Quash Subpoenas issued by the company in its lawsuit filed by former fighters. Zuffa argues it is in need of three requests it made to Bellator and made exhaustive attempts (over 18 months) to work with the company on narrowing the scope.
Zuffa claims it does not normally seek non-public information from a competitor but they must have access “to defend against the antitrust lawsuit…”
A Federal Magistrate will hear the arguments from both sides on March 29th in Los Angeles.
The three requests at issue are:
- Bellator’s unredacted contracts;
- Documents regarding its negotiations with athletes; and
- Limited financial information including profit/loss statements and financial projections.
Zuffa claims that the request for contract documents will show the “intense competition” within Plaintiffs’ “Elite Professional MMA Fighter services” market. Documents regarding negotiations with athletes will also demonstrate that the UFC is not the “only game in town” and there is competition for fighters. It will also show that Bellator offers its athletes competitive compensation. Additionally, argues that Bellator’s Financial Information will reveal that it has not been foreclosed from the alleged market set by Plaintiffs.
It also argues that the requests are proportional to the needs of case. Essentially, Zuffa is asking only what it needs from Bellator and rebuts the Viacom-owned company’s assertion in its Motion to Quash that the requests are not proportional. In its brief, Zuffa cites the importance of the documents indicating “…issues at stake in the Nevada Action have the potential to fundamentally reshape the entire MMA industry.”
Zuffa attorneys argue that confidential information would not be made public or even disclosed to Zuffa. The protective order currently in place allows Bellator to designate its information with the title HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL – ATTORNEYS” EYES ONLY. This would ensure that the public or Zuffa employees would never see the information. This discovery designation is sometimes utilized in highly sensitive cases with company documents. In addition, Zuffa cites case law (notably, no cases in the 9th circuit, the controlling authority for this court) citing that motions to quash are “routinely denied” when there are “adequate protections for the commercially sensitive information.”
It also argues that in the antitrust lawsuit in Nevada, Zuffa has produced over 651,000 documents with 241,00 identified as Highly Confidential. The Plaintiffs, according to Zuffa, have produced approximately 64,000 docs with 4,300 docs identified as highly confidential. Third parties have produced 241,000 docs with 2,800 being designated as highly confidential. Zuffa makes the point that none of the highly confidential documents were disseminated to anyone other than attorneys and experts in the lawsuit. Thus, Zuffa and/or the Plaintiffs have not seen any of the documents flagged highly confidential.
The opposition briefing includes two declarations. One from one of Zuffa’s attorneys highlighting the account of how it attempted to work with Bellator on accessing the documents under the subpoena requests. Another declaration is from a Zuffa-retained expert citing the need for the documents requested to address the issues in the antitrust lawsuit.
You can expect the Federal Magistrate that will hear this motion to weigh the benefits of producing the documents against the business trade secrets of Bellator. If you are Bellator, you are fighting this to the end because there is always a chance that someone (knowingly or unknowingly) violates the terms of a protective order. At that point, you can’t unring the bell. Zuffa wants to appear reasonable to the magistrate and indicates that it is willing to continue to work with Bellator to get the documents it needs.
The hearing is March 29th in LA. MMA Payout will keep you posted.
March 8, 2017
Bellator 174 this past Friday on Spike TV drew 755,000 viewers and peaked at 1.1 million viewers according to Nielsen. The ratings reflect the adjust DVR+3 ratings.
The overnight rating drew 686,000 viewers and 255,000 in the adult 18-49 demo per Sports TV Ratings. The event featured the inaugural women’s featherweight title bout as Julia Budd defeated Marloes Coenen. Budd is now champion and Coenen, a women’s MMA pioneer, decided to retire after the fight.
Not big numbers here as the card did not have any big names. However, to get the peak over 1 million viewers is still a testament to the fact that Bellator continues to garner a core audience.
February 28, 2017
Bellator 173 on Friday night on Spike TV drew 557,000 viewers per Sports TV Ratings. The event also drew 237,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo.
The event featured Liam McGeary and Brett McDermott with McGeary taking the decision in the light heavyweight matchup. The event took place in Belfast, Northern Island.
The rating is the lowest since Bellator 168.
It wasn’t the best event and did not receive a back-to-back week boost from last week’s Bellator event. The Bellator viewer average for 2017 sits at 865,000 viewers.
February 23, 2017
Bellator 172 this past Saturday on Spike TV drew 873,000 viewers in DVR +3 ratings per Nielsen. The event peaked at 1.2 million viewers.
This past Saturday featured Patricky Freire and Josh Thomson as the original main event was scrapped due to an injury to Matt Mitrione.
|Overnight||A18-49||Peak||DVR + 3|
February 23, 2017
On Wednesday, Bellator filed a Motion to Quash a Subpoena served on it by the UFC in its antitrust lawsuit filed in Nevada. MMA Payout has obtained the documents related to the motion to quash.
Bellator is not a party to the lawsuit. There is no date set for the hearing. Since the pleading was filed in California, it’s not known at this point whether Zuffa will make Bellator file in Nevada or make an appearance in California.
The motion essentially is a court order relieving Bellator of its duties under the UFC-issued subpoena.
The requests are outlined by Bellator in its motion. It made attempts to compromise by providing certain information but the UFC would not do it.
The filing includes a Declaration of Scott Coker. In the 8 page Declaration he states that the reasons why Bellator cannot provide the requested information to Zuffa.
Notably, he states that providing athlete contract information, competitors would be able to anticipate Bellator’s recruitment strategies. Also, “[d]isclosure of Bellator’s fighter contracts to the Plaintiffs…and to other MMA athletes would place Bellator at a grave competitive disadvantage in its negotiations with athletes. With comprehensive knowledge of Bellator’s existing deals, price points, negotiating tactics, and business development priorities, athletes and their management would have more leverage to drive their own desired deal terms and precipitate disputes among athletes already under contract.”
This is the general dealing in discovery fights. The subpoena request is broad, the one producing the documents wants to limit, while the requester always wants more information. The Motion to Quash is the relief that Bellator has to avoid the subpoena in order to not be in violation. From Bellator’s perspective, it does not want to release the information as the UFC and other competing organizations can use it in the future. MMA Payout will keep you posted.
February 22, 2017
Bellator MMA drew 807,000 viewers on Saturday night on Spike TV per Sports TV Ratings. The event also drew 407,000 in the adult 18-49 demo.
The main event was to be Matt Mitrione and Fedor Emelianenko but that fell through just hours before the show was to start. The event went on with Josh Thomson taking on Patricky Freire in the main event. Pitbull stopped Thomson in the second round in his home town.
Certainly, you have to think that Bellator expected more from this event but with the late cancellation and no Fedor, 807,000 viewers seems pretty good. It went up against NBA All-Star Saturday night on TNT which drew over 5.6 million viewers as well as Showtime Boxing during a free preview weekend.
February 18, 2017
Matt Mitrione is out of Bellator 172 with a sickness just hours before the start of the main card. Bellator has indicated it will look to reschedule the fight at a later date.
The new main event is Josh Thomson and Patricky Freire.
There was much anticipation for this fight as the legend of Fedor is something that old school fans and new casual fans were interested in. The cancellation derails momentum for this event and potential big ratings for tonight.
Although Bellator scrambled to find a replacement, one can imagine how hard it would be to find a replacement just hours before the fight.
Bellator had been banking on this event and the pre-fight shoulder fighting was unique and entertaining. See below. Comedian Adam Carolla narrated this video vignette with many guest appearances.
February 8, 2017
The Hollywood Reporter reports that Spike TV will be rebranded as the Paramount Network. A formal announcement will happen on Thursday during Viacom’s quarterly earnings call.
Kevin Kay, the SpikeTV head is expected to stay on with the rebranding according to the report.
Rebranding could begin as early as 2018.
The network’s target demo has been young males. The UFC started on Spike before it signed its television deal with Fox. It was the birthplace for The Ultimate Fighter. It currently airs Bellator MMA programming.
It’s not known whether the rebranding will mean a refocus on programming. But, whenever there are rebranding efforts, there’s a likelihood that it means that there will be changes to make the network more attractive to a greater group of people. With more cord cutters and alternative means of viewing programs, network executives are attempting to change with the new normal.