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Bellator signs new TV deal with MTV2, not FX

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Bellator announced Tuesday it has signed a new TV deal with MTV2, and not FX, via press release:

Bellator Fighting Championships, a growing force in the world of mixed martial arts, has a new television home, MTV2. It was announced today jointly by Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney and Eric Conte, SVP, Programming and Production, MTV2. The three-year deal will commence in 2011.

Featuring some of the sport's top stars, Bellator brings a unique format of world-class fighting to fans with 12-week, eight-man tournaments in respective weight classes. MTV2, which features the highest concentration of M12-24 and M12-34 in television, will telecast two of these LIVE tournaments per year, plus a collection of special feature events. The first tournament will premiere in March 2011.

"MTV2 is the perfect home for the intense mixed martial arts action of Bellator," Eric Conte, SVP, Programming and Production, MTV2. "MMA is at the top of our audience's wish list, and partnering with Bellator to bring live events and specials to MTV2 made complete sense since our viewers are so hungry to see more MMA on-air."

"We are thrilled to partner with MTV2 which has such a strong audience of hard-to-reach young guys," said Rebney. "With a timeslot on a prominent nationally-distributed cable network aimed at young men, we now have the perfect platform to showcase our exciting, action-packed tournaments and fighters."

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney comments about the deal to MMAJunkie.com:

"There were options, but far and away, the top option and best alliance was with the MTV family and MTV2," he said. "When you're building out something like this, it's about growth and progression. ... If you hope to have success and be in business in the long term, you need to take steps to get this type of alliance."

Rebney divulged some additional deal points with MMAjunkie.com. In 2011, the organization hosts two 12-weeks seasons, which include 11 live events and a highlights-geared "Road to the Championship" special. Additionally, MTV2 will air three live events between seasons in 2011, which assures the fight promotion has a year-round presence (and that top fighters don't experience extended layoffs).

Each season in 2012 will get a few additional events, which means they'll run longer than three months each.

So, is this better or worse than signing with FX? Personally, I believe, for them, there is a ton less pressure in terms of ratings and expectations being on MTV2 than being on FX. That said, there exposure will be a lot less on MTV2, so it's a double-edged sword. A big problem coming up is that many providers don't carry MTV2 in HD, meaning those of you used to watching in high definition no longer will be able to do so.