Spike TV and Bellator officials on Tuesday revealed that Spike.com will begin streaming Bellator undercard fights with Saturday’s Season 5 kick-off, Bellator 49.
Spike.com will stream Bellator’s live undercard fights each week from 7-9 p.m. ET/PT, leading into MTV2’s live coverage of the 5th season of Bellator Fighting Championships at 9 p.m. ET/PT, which will be simulcast in HD on EPIX.
“We are thrilled to join forces with Spike.com,” said Rebney. “The Spike brand is synonymous with mixed martial arts worldwide and is another member of the MTV family, who does an incredible job in resonating with the hard-to-reach 18-to-34-year-old male audience.”
While Spike TV has long served as a home to The Ultimate Fighter and other UFC programming, that all comes to an end this year. Spike’s contract with the UFC is up at the end of 2011 and the UFC has already signed a landmark deal to move its programming over to the Fox family of networks for at least the next seven years.
Spike.com has never aired live MMA action before, so the streaming of Bellator undercard fights is sure to lead to speculation… and that speculation is not unfounded.
Spike TV, because of its early association with the UFC and The Ultimate Fighter brand, is highly identifiable with mixed martial arts. Being in the same family of networks as MTV2, it wouldn’t be surprising that network officials would make a move to fill the hole left by the UFC on Spike with Bellator, which is the next best competitor in the market considering that the UFC’s parent company also owns Strikeforce.
In fact, industry sources indicated to MMAWeekly.com that a Bellator move to Spike is all but a done deal; it’s more a matter of when than if the move will happen.
Spike TV owns the rights to a library of UFC content that includes live events, UFC Unleashed, and re-runs of The Ultimate Fighter through 2012. So Spike could opt to utilize that library of UFC content for 2012. Of course, they could also negotiate an agreement to sell those rights back to the UFC and Fox, but at this point, the rights are Spike’s.
If Spike decides to air its UFC library of content in 2012, Bellator could remain on MTV2 for another year. The situation could always change during that time, but expect to see Bellator on Spike TV at some point.
For now, however, the Bellator move is to Spike.com for all of its Season 5 live undercards.