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GLORY's new CEO talks next event, future plans, Spike TV relationship

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Earlier this week GLORY installed sports marketing veteran Jon Franklin as Chief Executive Officer. A 15-year veteran of IMG, Franklin takes up the CEO role at a crucial juncture in GLORY's operation. Having been involved with the company since late 2012, he has plenty of ideas he wants to implement and is hitting the ground running.

Jon Franklin, right, being interviewed at London Olympics 2012
Jon Franklin, right, being interviewed at London Olympics 2012
Sports EntCo

GLORY appointed a new Chief Executive Officer earlier this week and he is wasting no time in pushing things forward.

Jon Franklin, who spent 15 years as an executive with sports marketing giant IMG, has been involved in GLORY's logistical operation since 2012. The backstage observations he has made since that time will be applied in his new role.

"I've been involved with GLORY from just prior to GLORY 4 TOKYO and I have seen from the grind floor right up to the boardroom how things are done: logistics-wise, production-wise, presentation-wise. I see some efficiencies that can be made and there will definitely be some changes," he tells Bloody Elbow.

But first and foremost all energies are being focused on GLORY's next live event. The last was on June 21 in Los Angeles and fans have been crying out for the next installment. Franklin assures them they will not have long to wait.

"We're looking to do events on a monthly or six-weekly basis so that we are doing at least ten events a year. We're going to start with that with our next event, which takes place in late October," he says.

"As we released earlier this week, Spike TV has signed off on the next season of programming so we've got the best television partner we could have here in the United States. And around the world things are in very good shape, television-wise, so we are in a good position now to bring the best content to our television partners and not have the long hiatuses.

"The recent Spike airing of the LAST MAN STANDING pay-per-view did very well and we've got some shoulder programming to announce which we think will be very well received, then late October we are back into our live event calendar and taking it from there.

"[The Spike deal has] been extended through 2015 which is perfect for both us and them. Right now we're in the process of closing in on venues which everyone will be very pleased with, we are in 100 per cent ‘go' mode."

When it comes to changes, Franklin says that GLORY's core ethos will remain the same.

"We have great fights. They make GLORY what it is and we will continue our tradition of having the best in the world fight the best in the world. That won't change. What will change is areas such as presentation and how we plan our event calendar and locations.

"We've been in Los Angeles and New York twice each, now we're looking into bringing our events to other locations in the US and around the world. If you take the analogy of being on tour - and I have worked on a number of tours in my career with IMG - well, going to New York every few months is not a tour.

"You have to take the show on the road, all over the country - and all over the world. GLORY is an international brand in an international sport and we have to maintain that international operation for sure."

One aspect of production which seems certain to change is the fighter walk-ins. Franklin notes that it is only the arena audience which gets to see these in full effect and thus a huge production spend is being allocated to something which doesn't even reach the television audience.

"There will be some changes production-wise. For example, most of our fighter walkouts are never seen on television because of time constraints. So that's a whole area of production which has a certain amount of time and cost involved but which doesn't necessarily have the impact we want it to," he explains.

Aside from that, Franklin says "the central ethos is a focus on the spectacular - that means fighters who dominate, who fight hard, who have the special moves and the big finishes, fighters who are big characters but who also follow through and don't just talk the talk.

"The main thing is making a great show for our audience and keeping the audience excited. That's who GLORY is aimed at and that is who supports GLORY, our fans, our sponsors, our television networks. Those are the people we are out to deliver a spectacular show for."

With GLORY and Spike TV having just renewed their broadcasting deal for 2015 it seems both sides are happy with what they have achieved thus far. Franklin says that, going forward, the television content is likely to be expanded.

"We just signed off on a ‘Best of GLORY Knockouts show' and we are also continuing the tradition of the Countdown shows on Spike before our events. On a reality show we are open to all possibilities, depending what our television partners want and what our audience is clamoring for," he says.

The company recently made its first venture in pay-per-view. According to several reports the numbers of units sold were not cause for celebration, yet Franklin points out that - just like the UFC - there are no official numbers released.

"We will definitely revisit pay-per-view when the time is right. It could be argued that it was too early for us to enter that market but there were some strategic reasons behind that and some of the results were great," he says.

"I can say that some of the speculation about the [PPV sales] numbers was wrong, nobody has gotten it right when it comes to the numbers. And everybody who bought that PPV was thrilled with it, which will hopefully drive more revenue in the future.

"But right now in the short term the plan is to do what we do best, which is to put great fights on television networks all over the world."

In summing up, Franklin says that GLORY's goal in the immediate future is "to deliver to fans whatever they are looking for."

"At this point everything is on the table. I am just getting going in the CEO role and there's a lot of things to discuss," he says.

"I've been part of GLORY almost since its inception so I have seen it grow and seen it from the inside, yet I'm also in a position now to take a fresh look at things and see what we need to do to take GLORY to the next stage."