MMA Coming to Network TV

Title: MMA Coming to Network TV
Date: February 28, 2008
Original Source: The On Deck Circle
Synopsis: A look at how Elite XC’s deal to air on CBS could effect the Mixed Martial Arts world.

Confirming rumors that have been circulating throughout the week, CBS announced that it will bring mixed martial arts to primetime network television. CBS Television Network and its partner, Pro Elite and their live fight division Elite Xtreme Combat (Elite XC), have been working together since the beginning of 2007 through their subsidiary premium cable station, Showtime. This move has been a long time in the making considering network TV’s strong desire to market to the lucrative 18-24 year old male demographic.

Showtime will continue to broadcast Elite XC events in addition to the four primetime MMA events that will air on CBS in the Saturday night primetime slot. This announcement is extremely important for the quickly expanding sport of mixed martial arts. Never before has MMA been broadcast live on network television, let alone in primetime.
 More after the jump!
“Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and a wildly popular entertainment vehicle for upscale, young adult audiences,” said Kelly Kahl, Senior Executive Vice President, CBS Primetime. “It’s original programming for Saturday night; it’s live, creating an event-atmosphere; and it’s something that hasn’t been seen on network television, until now.”

“This is a pivotal moment for the sport of mixed martial arts now that a major television network plans to broadcast live MMA events during primetime hours,” said Douglas DeLuca, Chief Executive Officer of ProElite. “We are delighted to enhance our partnership with CBS to bring American audiences the very best in MMA competition through our EliteXC brand.

“The network television agreement with CBS is an important milestone for ProElite as we continue to implement our growth strategy and develop existing relationships with our international partners.”

Founded in 2006, Elite XC has quickly established itself as a premier MMA promotion, which could soon rival the UFC. It has acquired well-known promotions such as King of the Cage (converted into ShoXC) and Cage Rage (Britain’s premier MMA event). Elite XC also has partnerships with other notable MMA franchises such as Strikeforce and Japan’s K-1.

This move will have wide ranging implications for the MMA industry. Industry leader, the UFC, will now have to consider its options with regards to television. Its current partner, Spike TV, does not have nearly the reach of a network station and a national television audience could be a major competitive advantage for Elite XC. Almost as if to validate the importance of the CBS-Elite XC deal, the UFC announced today that it has signed a three year sponsorship deal with Bud Light, making it the officially beer of the UFC and the WEC.

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