According to a report by USA Today, Viacom, the parent company of the MTV Networks, "bought a majority stake in Bellator Fighting Championships and will start airing the promotion's bouts on Spike in 2013". The report states talks between Viacom and Bellator have been ongoing for approximately a year and reached a conclusion in the past month.
Bjorn Rebney, President and CEO of Bellator, will remain in charge of the organization.
"It puts all of those cornerstones of ownership in place for us," he said. "Which is something that's been so seriously lacking in the MMA space with so many different companies, including Strikeforce and the IFL and Affliction and all the different failures that have occurred. … It alleviates those issues."
The Ultimate Fighting Championship has been airing fights on Spike TV since 2005, but their deal ends this year. However, Spike still owns the rights to the UFC's library through 2012. Consequently, Bellator will not air on Spike until 2013. The organization's preliminary fights began airing on Spike.com in March.
In addition to live fights, other promotion treatment in the form of expanded television such as highlight shows, fighter profiles and more are expected to air on Spike as well.
According to Kevin Kay, President of Spike TV, Viacom was attracted to Bellator for its overall high quality, ability to deliver exciting fights with respectable talent and the organization's tournament format. "The tournament format (is), we think, a great way to get the audience invested in the fighters as personalities, as characters...I think we can help, with the expertise we have in building fighters as fighters that people want to see and come back week to week."
Once Bellator content makes its way to Spike, it will air in high definition, something the current partnership with MTV2 cannot offer in most homes. In addition, Bellator plans an international expansion effort, but there is currently no plans on when or where the promotion might go.
Stay tuned to this story as it develops on MMA Nation.