Spike TV will throw its hat into the pay-per-view ring next month when the network’s Bellator mixed-martial-arts franchise distributes its first live event.
Spike’s Nov. 2 Bellator MMA card will feature a main event pitting MMA veteran superstars Quinton “Rampage” Jackson against Tito Ortiz — the first of what the network hopes to be several events within the PPV arena, network president Kevin Kay said.
Since the beginning of the year, the men’s-targeted network has been airing events from the Chicago-based MMA outfit, in which Viacom, Spike’s parent, owns a majority interest. Kay said the network decided to offer a PPV event after Bellator was able to secure both Jackson and Ortiz in the main event.
“When Rampage and Ortiz became available, we felt we could start looking at a pay-per-view card,” he said. “You want to put fighters at that top of the card that could attract casual fans and who have mainstream name recognition … it felt like the right time.”
Kay would not say how many buys Spike needs to generate to be successful with the event, which will retail for a suggested price of $34.95. He did say that the network has to put on a quality event to get viewers to come back for any potential future PPV shows.
“If you want to be in the PPV business long-term, you have to give the fans a great product,” he said. “Realistically, the first time out, you want to put on a great show and build on that for the future.”
Spike and Bellator will compete with MMA juggernaut Ultimate Fighting Championship, which offers up to 12 PPV events a year. Bellator also joins a crowded November PPV ring-sports lineup that includes UFC’s 20th anniversary PPV event on Nov. 16; a Nov. 23 Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios PPV boxing match; and WWE’s high-profile Survivor Series PPV event on Nov. 24.
Kay said Spike has no plans to offer monthly or even quarterly Bellator PPV events, but will instead look at select opportunities to offer PPV events.
“The plan is not to do 12 events a year,” he said. “It’s a crowded marketplace. But we’ve talked to the operators about finding times where there’s not a UFC, WWE or boxing PPV event. “You’re asking consumers to shell out a lot of money in a particular billing cycle, so we want to pick and choose the places we want to be successful,” he said.
Kay said the weekly offering of Bellator events gives Spike a platform to market and promote the PPV event.
Along with its Bellator events, the network is currently running a three-part profile series spotlighting “Rampage” Jackson and will offer a countdown special a week prior to the event.
“Spike is like a barker channel for Bellator, so it’s a place where we can devote a tremendous amount of promotion and resources to this,” Kay said.
Along with Spike, Kay said other Viacom-owned networks such as BET, CMT, VH1, MTV and even TV Land will run spots promoting the PPV event.
The network is also giving operators as many as five hours of on-demand content to air leading up to the fight.
Spike has secured several sponsors for the PPV card including beer companies Miller Lite, restaurant chain Dave & Busters; sneaker company Reebok, and Microsoft’s Ryne: Son of Rome video game, said network officials.
Spike TV’s Bellator MMA will take a swing at UFC’s pay-per-view business with its first event on Nov. 2.
Fall Ring-Sports Events Calendar
The pay-per-view fight card for November and December:
Nov. 2: Bellator MMA: Rampage vs. Tito
Nov. 16: UFC 167: 20th Anniversary Event
Nov. 23: HBO PPV Boxing: Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios
Nov. 24: WWE: Survivor Series
Dec. 7: Invicta MMA (Pro Women)
Dec. 14: Showtime PPV Boxing: Adrien Broner-Marcos Maidana
Dec. 15: WWE: Tables, Ladders & Chairs
Dec. 28: UFC 168
SOURCE: Multichannel News research