Bellator took a big step towards competing with the UFC earlier today when it was announced that television company Viacom, the parent company of stations such as MTV, SpikeTV, and VH1, purchased a majority stake of the promotion. While Bellator currently airs on MTV2 on Saturday nights, the organization will move to Spike TV in 2013 when Spike’s television contract with the UFC runs out.
UFC and Spike cut ties earlier this year when UFC signed a deal with the FOX network. UFC had the chance to purchase back their library from Spike, which would have allowed Bellator to move to their new station in 2012, but declined to do so. Season six of Bellator, which starts in early 2012, could move to a different night but will remain on MTV2 for the year.
Bellator’s highest viewership on MTV2 is under 350,000 homes. That number is expected to increase when they move to SpikeTV. UFC events regularly do over one million viewers on the network.
News of this purchase will ensure that Bellator will be around for the long haul, and while they may never reach the level of success as the UFC, they now have a solid foundation and won’t fall by the wayside anytime soon like many other MMA promotions have done over the years.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney will remain the head of the organization.
When Bellator makes the move to SpikeTV in 2013, they’ll not only air live events, but they’ll also put together highlight shows much like the current UFC Unleashed program that runs on Spike.