(Clearly, this man has his finger on the pulse of the nation.)
Elite XC seems to be putting all its hopes for long-term for success into its TV deal with CBS, but not everyone in the CBS family is a fan of the deal. In a recent story from the Hollywood Reporter (via MMA Payout), CBS and Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone publicly criticized CBS president Les Moonves and his decision to put mixed martial arts on live network TV.
“Les usually asks my opinion,” Sumner Redstone said Wednesday when asked about the four mixed-martial arts fights that will begin airing soon on CBS. This time, the Viacom and CBS chairman said, Moonves did not.
Redstone said the deal, struck with Elite Xtreme Combat, probably was a mistake, not because CBS won’t turn a profit from it but because it is not “socially responsible” to air the typically bloody bouts on free, broadcast TV.
“I’m a lover not a fighter,” Redstone said. “I don’t like the sport.”
Redstone saying that he doesn’t like the sport and isn’t anxious to see it on his network? That’s fine. That’s a personal opinion. He doesn’t have to like “How I Met Your Mother” either, but it’s going to stick around as long as it pulls in ratings, which apparently it does (people really watch that? are they drunk?).
But the remark about airing MMA not being “socially responsible” is intriguing. This is the same network that airs the NFL, which is awesome and also very dangerous and violent. They’re also home to great society-improving programming like ‘Big Brother’ and the Charlie Sheen sex-joke vehicle, ‘Two and a Half Men’. (By the way, don’t miss next Monday’s episode: “If My Hole Could Talk.” Now that’s innuendo!)
Fox Sports president Ed Goren also criticized the move, saying that he didn’t pursue a deal with the UFC because, “we don’t need money that badly.”
Of course, the UFC is said to be in serious talks with Fox’s entertainment division, and Fox Sports Net has aired both the IFL and Pride fights in the past. Seems like maybe everyone isn’t on the same page over at Fox. That’s also probably how they ended up with ‘Temptation Island.’
As much as TV execs love to take the moral high ground when they can, they probably didn’t get those jobs by following their hearts. If MMA proves to be a ratings success, my guess is they’ll put their personal abhorrence of violent sports aside in order to capitalize on it.