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1/17/13 9:18 AM
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Cyril Jeff
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Spike Exec: Bellator Less Risky Than "Being in Business with Somebody Like UFC"

By

(MMA Lead Writer) on January 17, 2013

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Chandler_alvarez_crop_exact Michael Chandler. Photo via Bellator.com

Everywhere Bellator President Bjorn Rebney turns, there they are. The same for Spike TV Senior Vice President Jon Slusser. Three little letters that carry a lot of weight in their chosen industry—UFC.

Bellator makes its live debut on Spike tonight at 10 PM, the first of fifteen consecutive weekly fight shows that will feature title bouts and five eight-man tournaments to select top contenders. It's a show 19 months in the making and for Rebney a huge moment, the culmination of a building period that has spanned nearly four years. 

But, though excitement for the show is palpable in Rebney's office, a shadow hangs over the entire enterprise—the enormous weight, power, and influence of the Ultimate Fighting Championship omnipresent, both in prefight interviews and online any time fans discuss a promotion that is now clearly a competitor for MMA's Kleenex.

The setup is right out of a storybook. In 2005, Spike took a chance on the UFC, allowing the struggling sport time on the network for what would eventually become an iconic reality show, The Ultimate Fighter. From there, a partnership blossomed.  Live fights followed and, soon enough, a fight promotion that was in the red was rumored to be a billion dollar enterprise. And a network that had struggled through several names and an identity crisis found that identity at last. Spike had a hit, an audience,and a new voice.

"The experience was unbelievably valuable for both of us," Slusser, Spike TV Senior Vice President for Sports, told Bleacher Report. "We helped each other and we built it and both brands are better off as a result. We had a great relationship and it was fun. It was exciting."

 

---read the rest---

1/17/13 9:19 AM
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Cyril Jeff
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follow Jonathan Snowden on Twitter

 

character limits aided in the butchered title, but hopefully you got the just of it before clicking...

1/17/13 9:24 AM
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TheCrow13
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Would you mind posting the rest for us working? It's really well written Phone Post
1/17/13 9:38 AM
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liquidrob
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FIFTEEN STRAIGHT WEEKS
1/17/13 9:59 AM
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MMALOGIC
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bellator 360 ratings took a nose dive... plummeting to 350k viewers in it's second week from 487k viewers from the debut. ufc unleashed was doing around a  million.

even mmauncensored was getting around 500k viewers.  the difference? besides being just a magazine show which didnt air full fights uncensored featured UFC events and fighters.

once people realize bellator isnt the UFC they're live event ratings will nose dive as well.  week 3, week 4, year 2... we're gonna see exactly how "risky" being in business with bellator is.

Spike is gonna spend all their fan equity that they built up with years of airing UFC content and spend it on bellator... and once that's spent, the numbers are gonna dwindle to around 500k or less by 2014.

some of that equity is gone because in 2012 they didnt air any live ufc events...  I suspect most of the rest will be gone in a year.

if they arent pulling 800k plus consistently viacom is gonna get out of the bellator business.

1/17/13 10:05 AM
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liquidrob
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"Bellator will be dead in 6 months" - MMALOGIC a year ago

"Bellator will be done in 3 years" - MMALOGIC now
1/17/13 10:14 AM
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Cyril Jeff
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TheCrow13 -  Would you mind posting the rest for us working? It's really well written Phone Post

 

sorry man, don't want to tread on Jonathan's work/copyright.

1/17/13 10:16 AM
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Garv
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liquidrob - "Bellator will be dead in 6 months" - MMALOGIC a year ago

"Bellator will be done in 3 years" - MMALOGIC now

lol

MMALogic, I don't think casual fans are as brand-crazy as you think.  The tournament format is a winner and the fights are good.  If people tune out because it's not the UFC, then they're morons.

1/17/13 10:27 AM
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Hired Gun
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I wonder why so many people bash and hate on Bellator unless they have some agenda they are trying to push?
1/17/13 10:31 AM
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Clarence Parents
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Why was the title of this thread changed from "SpikeExec"Being in biz w/Bellator, better than UFC "

Just curious..
1/17/13 10:35 AM
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Steve4192
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"What's risky is continuing to spend money on a franchise like the UFC where you don't own it and the rights continue to escalate until you're spending so much money on this stuff and you're not getting anything back. You're building somebody else's brand," Slusser said. "Once we made the investment in Bellator, then the cost of programming (went down). We don't pay a rights fee. There's no more millions going out the door....the financial exposure is not as great.

 

 

 

So much for all those folks who think Viacom is going to give Bellator a blank check.

 

It seems pretty clear this move was all about cost-containment. 

1/17/13 10:37 AM
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Steve4192
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Clarence Parents - Why was the title of this thread changed from "SpikeExec"Being in biz w/Bellator, better than UFC "

Just curious..

Because he didn't say that.

 

He said it was less risky since Spike now controls the brand (through Viacom ownership) and can limit their financial exposure.

1/17/13 10:41 AM
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Clarence Parents
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Steve4192 - 
Clarence Parents - Why was the title of this thread changed from "SpikeExec"Being in biz w/Bellator, better than UFC "

Just curious..

Because he didn't say that.

 

He said it was less risky since Spike now controls the brand (through Viacom ownership) and can limit their financial exposure.


Makes sense, just noticed the thread went up under the title I mentioned, was removed shortly after and then this one popped up..
1/17/13 10:42 AM
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Cyril Jeff
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Clarence Parents - Why was the title of this thread changed from "SpikeExec"Being in biz w/Bellator, better than UFC "

Just curious..

 

haha, I messed up the original thread, deleted it, and made this one, sorry about that...

1/17/13 10:43 AM
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Broder
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Just think if Zuffa had not bought Strikeforce it would probably be Strikeforce on Spike right now. The Zuffa/Fox deal might not have even happened if Strikeforce was still in the game under Coker and SEG. Could have been very interesting times for MMA right now. Whatever Zuffa paid for Strikeforce it was a steal.
1/17/13 10:45 AM
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Steve4192
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Broder - Just think if Zuffa had not bought Strikeforce it would probably be Strikeforce on Spike right now. The Zuffa/Fox deal might not have even happened if Strikeforce was still in the game under Coker and SEG. Could have been very interesting times for MMA right now. Whatever Zuffa paid for Strikeforce it was a steal.

Why would Strikeforce be on Spike?

 

They would still be contractually obligated to CBS/Showtime, not Viacom.

1/17/13 10:53 AM
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john joe
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Steve4192 - 

"What's risky is continuing to spend money on a franchise like the UFC where you don't own it and the rights continue to escalate until you're spending so much money on this stuff and you're not getting anything back. You're building somebody else's brand," Slusser said. "Once we made the investment in Bellator, then the cost of programming (went down). We don't pay a rights fee. There's no more millions going out the door....the financial exposure is not as great.

So much for all those folks who think Viacom is going to give Bellator a blank check.

It seems pretty clear this move was all about cost-containment. 
 


no, cost-containment was in respect of the UFC which was a third-party brand that they didnt own and which eventually flew the nest.

 

This is why Viacom bought Bellator FC outright, or near as dammit, immediately upon the Spike deal coming into existence. So that the dollars they pour in arent going to then wander off into a FOX-red sunset

Viacom is about to pump big money into Bellator; where do you think Bellator gets the idea to match the UFC's $250,000 signing bonus etc? Thats Viacom money not BFC money. It will also be Viacom money that secures some big-name services in the near future, if all goes to plan for them...

1/17/13 10:53 AM
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Steve4192
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What I find funny about that quote is that I can't think of a single successful sports league that is owned by the network they broadcast on.  None of the major sports leagues are network owned.  Not sure what makes them think owning your own sports property is a winning formula when no one else has been able to make it work.

1/17/13 10:58 AM
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Steve4192
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john joe - 
Steve4192 - 

"What's risky is continuing to spend money on a franchise like the UFC where you don't own it and the rights continue to escalate until you're spending so much money on this stuff and you're not getting anything back. You're building somebody else's brand," Slusser said. "Once we made the investment in Bellator, then the cost of programming (went down). We don't pay a rights fee. There's no more millions going out the door....the financial exposure is not as great.

So much for all those folks who think Viacom is going to give Bellator a blank check.

It seems pretty clear this move was all about cost-containment. 
 


no, cost-containment was in respect of the UFC which was a third-party brand that they didnt own and which eventually flew the nest.

 

This is why Viacom bought Bellator FC outright, or near as dammit, immediately upon the Spike deal coming into existence. So that the dollars they pour in arent going to then wander off into a FOX-red sunset

Viacom is about to pump big money into Bellator; where do you think Bellator gets the idea to match the UFC's $250,000 signing bonus etc? Thats Viacom money not BFC money. It will also be Viacom money that secures some big-name services in the near future, if all goes to plan for them...


Why did the UFC leave Spike?

 

Because Spike wasn't willing to pay them.  Viacom has no one to blame for the UFC flying the coop but themselves.  The whole scenario was kicked off because Viacom wasn't willing to pay market price for top-shelf MMA programming.  They let the UFC go and bought Bellator because they don't want to spend $100MM/year on MMA programming.  They'd rather spend $20MM/year for a second-tier product that they control.

1/17/13 11:21 AM
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MMALOGIC
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liquidrob - "Bellator will be dead in 6 months" - MMALOGIC a year ago

"Bellator will be done in 3 years" - MMALOGIC now

I never said they were going out of business in 6 months...  I said because of an sec settlemant the hedge fund that owns a majority stake in bellator has to liquidate it's assets in a year.  Since bellator was one of their assets I said if bellator doesnt find a buyer they are gonna be in trouble.  well they found a buyer (viacom).

1/17/13 11:21 AM
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Cyril Jeff
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Steve4192 - 

What I find funny about that quote is that I can't think of a single successful sports league that is owned by the network they broadcast on.  None of the major sports leagues are network owned.  Not sure what makes them think owning your own sports property is a winning formula when no one else has been able to make it work.


 

don't know of any leagues, but the New York Knicks are owned by James Dolan/CableVision...

1/17/13 11:41 AM
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MMALOGIC
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Garv - 
liquidrob - "Bellator will be dead in 6 months" - MMALOGIC a year ago

"Bellator will be done in 3 years" - MMALOGIC now

lol

MMALogic, I don't think casual fans are as brand-crazy as you think.  The tournament format is a winner and the fights are good.  If people tune out because it's not the UFC, then they're morons.


people dont love mma as much as you and I do and with all the UFC content being pumped out the average fans gets all he or she needs. if the UFC was under-supplying the demand then id say bellator has space to fill in.  as it is they are supplying it just fine and some would argue oversupplying.

I understand some like the tournament format... but it has been failure in the marketplace.  they have failed an audience with nor create any real stars.  Eddie Alvarez was their poster boy since the beggining and his fights never moved the needle... neither has anyone else on the roster.

Let's compare this to the wec... they were on a network called versus which had an average viewership of less than 22,000 (mtv2 has an average viewership of 100k).  They were able to create bonifide stars. they pulled over a million viewers twice  and able to pull over 400k viewers 13 times.

  • WEC 53 (Henderson vs. Pettis): 615,000 viewers
  • WEC 52 (Faber vs. Mizugaki): 570,000 viewers
  • WEC 51 (Aldo vs. Gamburyan): 486,000
  • WEC 50 (Cruz vs. Benavidez II): 316,000
  • WEC 49 (Varner vs. Shalorus): 324,000
  • WEC 48 (Aldo vs. Faber): n/a (aired on PPV)
  • WEC 47 (Bowles vs. Cruz): 373,000 viewers
  • WEC 46 (Varner vs. Henderson): 640,000
  • WEC 45 (Cerrone vs. Ratcliff): 330,000
  • WEC 44 (Brown vs. Aldo): 414,000
  • WEC 43 (Cerrone vs. Henderson): 419,000
  • WEC 42 (Torres vs. Bowles): 670,000
  • WEC 41 (Brown vs. Faber II): 1,300,000
  • WEC 40 (Torres vs. Mizugaki): n/a
  • WEC 39 (Brown vs. Garcia): 531,000
  • WEC 38 (Varner vs. Cerrone): 702,000
  • WEC 37 (Torres vs. Tapia): 671,000
  • WEC 36 (Faber vs. Brown): 497,000
  • WEC 35 (Condit vs. Miura): 423,000
  • WEC 34 (Faber vs. Pulver): 1,540,000

And these are the small guys who everyone claims cant draw.   How many shows have bellator put on that pulled over 400k viewers?  none.

The tournament format has been a failure in the marketplace.  Again I understand some like it and why they like it.  But it's too confusing for the vast majority to follow.  Watch spike get rid of the tournament format within a year,

You'll see in the first season how the viewership drops and wimpers along.

Even SF who was on a network only available in 28 million homes was able to create stars.  They had 11 events that pulled over 400k viewers.  How many events did bellator pull over 400k?

The UFC's average ppv buys per show in 2012 was over 400k buys.  Think about that... the UFC gets twice as many people to pay 55 dollars for their product than bellator was able to get to watch their product for FREE. 

1/17/13 11:49 AM
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liquidrob
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Lol @ the tournament format is a failure

SF did there highest rating when they went to the GP format

1/17/13 11:59 AM
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Steve4192
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liquidrob - Lol @ the tournament format is a failure

SF did there highest rating when they went to the GP format


I' don't think I would be hanging my hat on one data point.  The first round of the tournament did great ratings, the next couple of rounds did terrible.

1/17/13 12:03 PM
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liquidrob
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The tournament format is staying in Bellator and it should, its not going to he a negative, the majorty of sports have a tournament and playoffs

Tournaments can create stars, it has that ability, guys like Chandler come out of these things, if Bellator fails the tournament format wouldnt be the reason

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