EXCLUSIVE: Chatri Sityodtong talks ONE Championship in discussions for new US broadcast deal
ONE Championship’s run on TNT in the US has been dogged by inconsistent programming outside of four straight weeks of events in April. However, things could change soon with the organization in open discussions to sign a new US broadcast partnership for 2022.
In December of 2018, the Singapore-based mixed martial arts powerhouse ONE Championship made headlines when they partnered up with TNT to broadcasts prime time events in the US. Yet, the deal produced very few opportunities for the promotion to showcase their unique combat sports brand in front of US audiences in those all-important prime time slots. With that broadcast deal set to end at the end of the year, the organization’s CEO Chatri Sityodtong revealed to MixedMartialArts.com that ONE Championship is now in the process of brokering a new US television deal. Be it with TNT or another broadcaster.
ONE Championship in active discussions for new US TV deal says Chatri Sityodtong
“What I can say is since July, CAA — who represents ONE in the US — has taken us on a US media rights roadshow,” Sityodtong told MixedMartialArts.com. “We’ve met with every major broadcast network and digital player. And obviously, [TNT] being one of them. Our rights are actually up in the US [at] year-end. So we are now in discussion with all the major broadcasters, so knock on wood, we’ll have something really exciting to announce in the coming weeks. … That’s all I can say right now. It’s really exciting times for ONE.”
April brought consecutive weeks of live ONE Championship content that featured some of the promotion’s elite talent. However, since then no live events had aired on the network. US fans have only had Bleacher Report and its various broadcast platforms as the source for viewing ONE Championship content. Sityodtong says there are no issues between the promotion and popular television network, and that these negotiations are just the nature of television contracts and the promotion doing its due dilligence to find the next best broadcast deal for them.
“It’s not that TNT and ONE are not seeing eye-to-eye. That’s not the case at all,” said Sityodtong. “Typically with these media rights partnerships, the way things work is several months before expiration you go out on the road. And obviously for us to go out on the road and have a US roadshow, we want to meet with everybody. Our experiment in April was successful. We were the number two combat sport for the month of April in the US. The fifth most-watched sports property for that month, and [TNT] was happy with our results.
“…It is just a very interesting time for ONE as we talk to all the major broadcasters in the US. We do have big plans for the US, and COVID did throw [things off track] and put a pause on our US plans. But we will be coming to the US in a big way in 2022.”
Sityodtong: ‘You’ll see a very big push by ONE into the US’ in 2022
A ONE Championship debut on US soil has been talked about for several years, with New York, California, and Hawaii being rumored destinations. In July, MixedMartialArts.com also reported that Colorado had approved the use of the organization’s global MMA rules — which would include knees to grounded opponents — if ONE Championship chose to put on an event in the state.
Although Sityodtong could not reveal a destination or likely debut date, the plan is for the promotion to definitely hit US shores. Assuming that the ongoing global pandemic does not derail those plans again like it did in 2021.
“I can say that a few states have approved the global ruleset. Our team in the US — Rich Franklin and Matt Hume — have done a phenomenal job, and a few others have met with athletic commissions and gotten the blessing. So that’s all I can say right now. I don’t want to commit to where we’re going to have our events,” Sityodtong said. “
Our US media rights [and] broadcast discussions are going on right now, so I’ve got to see how it all shakes out. We’ve been planning this for a while, it’s [just that] COVID hit. Assuming that COVID is stable or improved into 2022, you’ll see a very big push by ONE into the US.”
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