Viacom, the parent of MTV Networks which currently hosts Bellator on MTV2, has purchased a majority stake in Bellator after talks concluded after nearly a near between the two sides. Bjorn Rebney, the current CEO of Bellator, will remain in the same role.
“It puts all of those cornerstones of ownership in place for us,” said Rebney, in an interview with USA Today. “It’s a very, very good day for mixed martial arts as a whole. Because now you have two groups in the space that have a very substantial presence that obviously isn’t going to go anywhere for a very, very long time.”
Spike TV will still be able to show the UFC library they own for another year because of the contract they worked out before the UFC left for FOX Networks. It is possible that either the UFC or FOX tries to purchase the library from Spike TV to keep them from counter-programming live shows with previously aired UFC events.
Bellator has built a roster around the likes of Eddie Alvarez, Pat Curran, Marlon Sandro, Hector Lombard, and Joe Warren since beginning in 2009. Other notable Bellator fighters include Ben Askren, Jay Hieron, and Cole Konrad. Askren and Hieron meet this weekend on MTV2 for Askren’s welterweight championship.
Back in 2009, Bellator was shown on tape-delay by ESPN Deportes. They expanded to Fox Sports Net affiliates before joining up with MTV2. Moving to Spike TV will make Bellator available in 20 million more homes than MTV2 can offer.
“I’m smiling ear-to-ear right now,” Alvarez said. “I couldn’t be any happier. Endorsements are hard to come by when you’re on ESPN Deportes and these other smaller channels.”
MMATraining Take: This is great news for all MMA fans, as it pushes Bellator into the #2 position in terms of promotions in the U.S. thanks to the reach that Spike TV offers. It also bumps them into complete HD broadcast, something MTV2 cannot do. While the difference between Bellator and the UFC remains quite large, it is closing with this agreement in place.