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We Have Lift Off - CBS AND PROELITE JOIN FORCES TO BRING MMA TO PRIMETIME BROADCAST TV

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From a press release in my inbox:

LOS ANGELES,  Feb. 28 -- The CBS Television Network and ProElite, Inc., a Los Angeles-based leading entertainment and media company that produces world class mixed martial arts (MMA) events, today jointly announced a multi-year agreement that will bring one of the fastest growing spectator sports to a major broadcast television network for the first time.

CBS will broadcast four MMA events per year, produced by ProElite's EliteXC fight division, as two-hour live primetime specials targeted for Saturday nights.

The agreement augments an existing relationship between CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS and CBS.A) and ProElite (PELE.PK), which began broadcasting its EliteXC live MMA events on CBS's SHOWTIME premium cable network in 2007.  EliteXC events will continue to air on SHOWTIME.

Additionally, CBS Interactive and ProElite's new media division, ProElite.com, will collaborate on generating interactive content for both companies' platforms, including CBSSports.com.  The online offerings could include streaming of events, clips syndicated across the CBS Audience Network, and other enhanced content to build an online community around each CBS broadcast and ProElite event.  

"Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and a wildly popular entertainment vehicle for upscale, young adult audiences," said Kelly Kahl, Senior Executive Vice President, CBS Primetime.   "It's original programming for Saturday night; it's live, creating an event-atmosphere; and it's something that hasn't been seen on network television, until now."  

"This is a pivotal moment for the sport of mixed martial arts now that a major television network plans to broadcast live MMA events during primetime hours," said Douglas DeLuca, Chief Executive Officer of ProElite. "We are delighted to enhance our partnership with CBS to bring American audiences the very best in MMA competition through our EliteXC brand.  

"The network television agreement with CBS is an important milestone for ProElite as we continue to implement our growth strategy and develop existing relationships with our international partners."

"Our world-class fighters and the high production value of our events continue to drive ProElite as a global MMA organization that is fortified by the bedrock foundation of a partnership with CBS," said Gary Shaw, President of EliteXC. "Broadcasting our events on CBS will instantly engage a new fan base, as well as provide an opportunity for EliteXC to further establish itself as the world's premier MMA organization."

Note to Dana White: this is what's known in the game of Chess as being in "Check". Your move, sir.

Update [2008-2-28 11:15:50 by Luke Thomas]:: Adam Swift adds a wrinkle to the fabric:

MMAPayout.com has also learned the rumored financial terms of the agreement. The deal is believed to be a straight time buy, meaning EXC would received no live rights fees. Pro Elite is already shopping for a title sponsor of the first show at $500,000, plus a commitment to buy a minimum of eight commercial spots from CBS, and a $100,000 investment in Pro Elite.
My knowledge of the television world is limited, but I know that brokered radio is never really real. You can get on the station, but the Program Manager doesn't really take you seriously. Network television is a different beast obviously, but that Pro Elite is funding the deal makes me raise my eyebrows about the long-term viability of this.