Bellator MMA made a major change to its broadcast plans in 2020 after moving from the Paramount Network to the CBS Sports Network but the promotion isn’t done just yet.
According to Bellator President Scott Coker, he’s having conversations with executives at parent company ViacomCBS about potentially expanding the organization’s footprint onto different networks.
Perhaps at the top of the list is landing Bellator on CBS, which would see the promotion debut on network television for the first time ever. Coker has experience working with CBS in the past after he previously put Strikeforce on the network and he would love to see Bellator do the same in the near future.
“Listen you know what, that would all be music to my ears,” Coker told MMA Fighting. “We’re talking to the networks everyday. We’ll hit them back up at the beginning of the year. This is a very big company and now that it’s back merged together, it’s my job to go back there and keep trying to gain more real estate. That’s probably the best word. Keep growing this brand.
“Eventually getting on CBS is definitely a goal of ours and having events on Showtime would be amazing. That’s definitely a goal of ours. Everything is up in the air right now but I think we’ll have some clarity in the next probably two weeks to four weeks we’ll probably have some clarity on exactly what direction we’re going to head.”
When Bellator was first purchased by Viacom in 2011, the company had already split with CBS after the two entities had previously been combined. This past year, the two conglomerates merged again to form a new company—ViacomCBS—and now that’s the umbrella Bellator lives under.
While the promotion is currently slotted for programming on CBS Sports Network, the option to potentially land on CBS or Showtime, also part of the same company, is actually possible now.
“When we were on the entertainment side of Viacom the options were very limited,” Coker said. “We were on Spike and we were on Paramount and I’m not sure there was a fit on the other side of the fence.
“But now that the companies have merged, now I see Paramount Plus as definitely an option for us. Showtime, that was my original home when I was with Strikeforce. I have a great relationship with those guys. A lot of good things ahead. A lot of options.”
Coker mentioned Paramount Plus, which is the new streaming service coming from ViacomCBS in early 2021.
Right now the company’s streaming service is called CBS All Access but that will change with the launch of Paramount Plus, which will put all of ViacomCBS’ brands including CBS, MTV, Paramount Network and many more under one roof.
In addition to dozens of hours of original programming, Paramount Plus will also offer Bellator MMA a potential home for streaming events similar to what the UFC has with ESPN+.
“I do feel like streaming, when you talk about streaming and Paramount Plus, I do think what you’ve seen in the success and the growth on say the Pluto channel or the YouTube channel, I think there’s a really big audience for MMA online,” Coker said. “I think that’s where our fans like to hang out and watch their content.
“It’s a changing world, it’s evolving. I think there’s got to be when you talk about linear television and the streaming services, there has to be a balance moving into the future for us. Because there’s going to be fans on both sides of that fence but we definitely want to make sure we take care of our whole audience.”