NY Times: UFC vs. Viacom

by Amy Chozick |

In one corner is Ari Emanuel, the Hollywood superagent who represents the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the premier cage-fighting league. In the other corner is Philippe P. Dauman, the urbane chief executive of the media conglomerate Viacom.

From 2005 to 2011, the U.F.C. was shown on Spike, a Viacom channel, where it became a ratings powerhouse. Then, in 2011, in renegotiating the U.F.C.’s deal, Mr. Emanuel asked for a 50 percent fee increase and made other demands. When Viacom balked, the U.F.C. struck a $700 million, seven-year deal with Fox Sports to show its fights on Fox, FX and Fuel, all owned by News Corporation.

But Mr. Dauman counterpunched, and Viacom decided to enter the fight business itself. In fall 2011, the company paid around $50 million for a majority stake in Bellator Fighting Championships, according to people with knowledge of the deal who did not want to be identified discussing internal company business.

That Viacom, home of Paramount Pictures, MTV and SpongeBob SquarePants, now owns a gritty league of muscled gladiators — who travel the country fighting in a 710-square-foot circular cage — speaks to the fierce battle for live sports rights. In the DVR age, networks desperately want to hang on to live viewership.

BUT it also demonstrates the evolution of cage fighting, which has grown in the past decade from a fringe spectacle banned in many states to one of the fastest-growing sports properties on TV. Mixed martial arts dates back to the ancient Greek Olympic sport of pankration (or “all powers”) that emerged circa 648 B.C. It allowed fighters to use a blend of fighting styles, though biting and gouging out an opponent’s eyes were outlawed. In modern times, mixed martial arts largely evolved from a Brazilian combat sport known as vale tudo (Portuguese for “anything goes”) popularized in the 1920s.

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tags: Viacom   Bellator   UFC   


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Recent Comments »

newbornbabynoob site profile image  

2/19/13 1:04 AM by newbornbabynoob

Yep. I'm scum and the article was terrible.

darwinsmunky site profile image  

2/18/13 2:47 PM by darwinsmunky

You seem determined to play the role of the apologist so in the spirit of copping out please accept this soapbox so you can stand on the moral high ground. Last time i checked this was still an mma forum and putting up an article that was at best mediocre deserves some criticism. We're not talking about someone just offering their opinion, we're talking about a supposed professional in the field of writing. Your trying to defend the process and field itself and not what was actually written. The article sucked, plain and simple.

Anthraxxx site profile image  

2/18/13 2:38 PM by Anthraxxx

When I read it, the article came off as just simply an outsiders point of view on MMA. I am glad to see it in the paper and get some mainstream attention.As "bad" as the article may seem to portray the sport it really is just looking at it through the lens of a complete outsider, nothing genuinely dishonest was really written in this piece.Many hardcore fans live in the bubble of MMA and accept the violence as a norm. To a new york times reader, this article portrayed the sport exactly as they would see it if they turned on spike.My only gripe with the article was that while a good amount of time and effort was devoted to describing what she witnessed at the event, and not the "battle" between Zuffa and Viacom as was portrayed on the outset. Most of the quotes from Dana came from past interviews, press conferences and media scrums. The article was Bellator heavy in my opinion.All in all I was happy to see an MMA story in the Sunday NYT but I was not impressed by your performance.

Macbody site profile image  

2/18/13 2:19 PM by Macbody

Ask Rorion Gracie why there is a cage. And please remember we were so close to having the octagon surrounded by flames and alligators.Noob!

Macbody site profile image  

2/18/13 2:16 PM by Macbody


HandsomeTopTeam site profile image  

2/18/13 1:31 PM by HandsomeTopTeam

Good article. Lots of bad reading comprehension on this thread.

Dana Stern site profile image  

2/18/13 1:16 PM by Dana Stern

Byork wants to be Dana so bad it's not even funny. I don't get why nobody points out how terrible Bellator really is. Just because it's different and another option other then UFC doesn't make it good. There is a few really good fighters but for the most part they suck and the tournament format is a joke it doesn't make sense from a business stand point or anything. I really enjoyed Strikeforce and WEC but Bellator is no good, of course my opinion. Viacom will get tired of dumping money into them eventually and they will fold. Just a matter of time.

Chris27 site profile image  

2/18/13 1:00 PM by Chris27

First that article was def more a look at Bellators growth but I agree they didnt slight the UFC in any way.However that was a terribly written article, I've read way better stuff from the mma community.

newbornbabynoob site profile image  

2/18/13 12:50 PM by newbornbabynoob

Congratulations. You just figured out how journalism works. A reporter is tasked with writing on literally thousands of topics and she can't be an expert on all of them. She spends a few days researching it and presents something to the general public.If she wrote an article on the legal system some internet douchebag would write, "This is borderline fluff! It pollutes the minds of every reader not familiar with the law and is an example of poor writing!" Would they expect an article written like it was intended for the Harvard Law Review? There's a reason the general public reads the New York Times and not the Harvard Law Review.But... but... why don't they just pay an expert to write their article for them, an idiot might wail. Well, look at this forum. A significant number of people here could write a damn good article for them... and a significant number of people here would pillory them for it, because that's what happens when knowledgeable people post their opinions here.This article is actually receiving less scorn and bile here than if an MMA expert had written it.

darwinsmunky site profile image  

2/18/13 7:24 AM by darwinsmunky

There was an obvious viacom bias here, but it was by far overshadowed by the total lack of respect and education of the sport in general by the author herself. I can understand there being a lack of general knowledge regarding mma considering its fairly recent mainstream birth, but if your not "a bunch of hardcore nerds hanging out on an internet website" than i would expect a much broader view than what was given. I scoff at the idea of this being an educational piece, making a pop reference claiming bruce lee to be the father of mma, whilst neglecting to name the "prominent brazilian family who helped found the UFC" as the Gracies. "Once almost a free-form bloodfest, M.M.A., as the sport is known, now comes with a strict set of rules enforced on a state-by-state basis (no hair-pulling, kicks “to the kidney with a heel” or “twisting the flesh”)" Of course! Without groin strikes, eye gouging and biting what fun would it be???!!!! This shit and more is all on page 1. I would continue to take quotes but im not writing a paper and need another beer so i will end on this...This is borderline fluff. It pollutes the minds of every reader not familiar with the sport and is an example of poor writing. This is reminiscent of someone trying to work their way up the ladder of significance, begrudgingly attending an event that they deem insignificant, attempting to reach some state of idealism, yet never learning what writing is all about. The tone of the author is apparent from the very beginning. She failed to remain objective, instead falling upon the observations of a simpleton. It seems that fighting as a sport in general is lost upon her, but she had to come up with something to meet the deadline. She describes the ambiance of the casino better than she does the ambiance of the event. She is obviously totally disinterested in this piece. Ridiculous. I want to tear into this more, but at this point its not even worth it.