Bjorn Rebney spoke to Luke Thomas of MMA Fighting after the Bellator 120 open workouts and got him to open up about a number of topics including losing his headliner of Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler for the Bellator Lightweight title.
Rebney talks about getting that call, how he feared it would be a call about Tito Ortiz getting hurt again. A neck injury to Ortiz last year forced the cancellation of Bellator's first attempt at pay-per-view last year.
Rebney talks about the new headliner of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal, Will Brooks stepping up to fight Michael Chandler for the interim Lightweight title and says the winner will get champion Eddie Alvarez when he's healthy.
But by far the most interesting thing Rebney alludes to is the support their PPV debut is getting from the big cable TV players who are alarmed by the WWE Network and UFC Fight Pass, both of which represent existential threats to the PPV business model.
I'm hearing rumors (and seeing the ads) that the cable companies are pushing this event with a LOT of advertising. Now obviously they have the advertising inventory so it's not like they're spending a lot out of pocket but apparently they are pushing the Bellator PPV way out of proportion to its likely buy rate.
Here's what Rebney said:
Thomas: What is the sense here, are the ticket sales where they need to be? Are you getting the return, so far, that you'd expected?
Rebney: Oh yeah, look, the ROI on this, so far has been spectacular. It goes deeper than that, it goes to what is happening with the affiliates. The affiliates right now are looking at a situation where the WWE is pulling out with the WWE Network, you know, and also at the same time, the UFC is pulling out to a certain extent with the Fight Pass or Fight Network, or whatever they're doing. Right now, we're completely at home with those affiliates. So, the Time Warners, the Comcasts, the DirecTVs, the iN DEMANDS, etcetera, have really come on board to support this event in an amazing way. So, you're seeing it everywhere. The radio, the TV, the digital print is everywhere. So, Rampage is supporting it, King Mo is supporting it, Tito's doing a great job, Shlemenko, where he can now, in his broken English is doing a great job. I feel it and everybody who I know, that I've ever touched in the fight business, is coming to me going "Man, I see that thing everywhere. It's big." So, it is... The reaction to it is what I hoped the reaction to it would be and I think these guys are going to deliver.