"…and Ben, I have you down to guest host on ‘Saturday Drop a Deuce’. That’s cool, right?"
A press release today announces that Bellator Fighting Championships has reached an agreement with MTV Networks to air live events on MTV2. The three-year deal, which begins in March of 2011, provides for broadcast of two seasons of tournaments a year, "plus a collection of special feature events." Eric Conte, Senior VP in charge of Programming and Production for MTV2, is quoted as saying that "MMA is at the top of our audience’s wish list" and that a partnership with the surging promotion "made complete sense". (We haven’t received word yet on whether Conte was the guy that green-lit Wrestling Society X.)
The news comes as a surprise, as Bellator had been expected to announce an extension of its partnership with Fox Entertainment Group, parent of Fox Sports Net and FX.
Obviously, this is big news for Bellator, which has been hampered by lack of a stable time slot on FSN and plagued by last minute preemptions. MTV2 is a step up on the distribution ladder, and more people will have access to the weekly shows than ever before. As the press release noted, there is a nice dovetail in the demographics for the network and the Bellator fanbase.
It is still unclear how this agreement will impact Bellator’s scheduling. The first two seasons featured tournaments in four weight classes, the third season covered three classes, and the fourth season is shaping up for action in four, five, eight, who knows how many weight classes. If MTV2 is only airing two live tournaments per year, there’s going to be a whole lot of live action not being covered unless there’s another deal in the works, like the aforementioned Fox.
UPDATE: MTV2 has agreed to air two seasons per year, which makes things sound much rosier. Season 4 starts in March, with tournaments in four weight classes: featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, and light heavyweight. The "collection of special events" is targeted for June, July, and August, with championships and super fights on the card, and possibly a single tournament if they can turducken it in there.
Lastly, while no news has come out of the Strikeforce-Bellator "let’s you and him fight" boondoggle, the MTV2 deal puts Bellator firmly in camp with parent company Viacom, which also owns a little cable outfit called SpikeTV. Now I’m not saying that Ben Askren and Josh Koscheck are going to throw down in August after Askren defends his welterweight strap and Koscheck recovers from his broked face, I’m just asking if Bjorn Rebney has sent any texts to Dana offering to pick up lunch.
We’ll keep you updated on any details we find out. Until then, how many of you are considering watching MTV again for the first time in a decade?