Although Bellator MMA restarted their live events after the UFC, it is clear they were making moves during quarantine.
The organization recently announced a partnership with CBS Sports Network that will see the organization’s live events featured on the 24-hour home of CBS Sports beginning this fall.
CBS Sports Network will televise Bellator events, both domestic and international, LIVE in all U.S. markets, while preliminary match-ups will stream on CBSSports.com and Bellator MMA’s YouTube channel.
We are coming in hot this October.
This month is stacked with one 🔥 Bellator bout after another. pic.twitter.com/NcFRpR6fvU
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) September 14, 2020
To kick off the new partnership, CBS Sports Network will air Bellator events live from Europe, including Bellator 247 on Thursday, Oct. 1 (4 p.m. ET) in Milan, Italy. Bellator 247 is headlined by a welterweight battle between veteran Paul Daley (42-17-2) and Derek Anderson (16-3, 1 NC).
Also, Bellator’s Paris event on Saturday, Oct. 10 (11:30 a.m. ET) in France Michael “Venom” Page (17-1) takes on Ross Houston (8-0, 1 NC) at welterweight and Cheick Kongo (30-10-2, 1 NC) face Tim Johnson (14-6) in a heavyweight bout.
Bellator also announced that it will become the first promotion to hold a major MMA event in France now that the country has approved the practice of mixed martial arts. The government has placed the sport under the supervision of the French Boxing Federation (FFB).
The first primetime event live from the U.S. takes place Thursday, Oct. 15 (9 p.m. ET) with a massive card anchored by the first world title defense of current champion Cris “Cyborg” (22-2, 1 NC). She takes on Australia’s Arlene Blencowe (13-7), at Bellator 249 from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
BREAKING: I have confirmed with multiple sources that a @BellatorMMA featherweight title fight between Cris Cyborg (@criscyborg) and Arlene Blencowe is signed, date TBD but is thought to happen before the end of 2020. pic.twitter.com/Xb3joAYn35
— Amy Kaplan (@PhotoAmy33) September 10, 2020
Bellator MMA was on the Paramount Network and more recently as a part of subscription service, DAZN.
Bellator MMA will still be on DAZN per a DAZN rep.
There must be trouble in paradise for DAZN, however, as witnessed by superstar boxer, Canelo Alvarez’s recent lawsuit against the company that gave him a deal just shy of $400 million for 11 fights.
In addition, just last week 60 employees were fired from the subscription based content provider.
The move back to broadcast align’s Bellator MMA back with an audience that still prefers broadcast distribution over streaming for combat sport content.
The UFC is an exception with its ESPN+ deal that has it on the broadcast sports behemoth’s streaming service. However, with the UFC Fight Pass also with the rights to air most mid-tier MMA promotions fights, the UFC audience has been used to streaming for years.
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) September 12, 2020
Bellator MMA has always had a problem making stars that reach the level of UFC stardom and maintaining the shine of UFC defectors that come over to Bellator during free agency. The exception might be Kimbo Slice who fought for Bellator before his unfortunate passing.
However, the move could prove to be wildly successful placing its headliners in rotation on CBS Sports networks to raise the visibility of the product.