Bellator MMA’s television home has been Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV) since 2013, but that’s reportedly coming to an end after next month.
ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reports that the Viacom owned promotion will leave Paramount after its September 12th event (headlined by Juan Archuleta vs. Patrick Mix for the bantamweight title). As for what’s next, CBS Sports Network beckons.
Bellator’s final show on Paramount Network will be on Sept. 12, sources say. That’s the card headlined by Archuleta x Mix.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) August 21, 2020
They will then move over to CBS Sports Network. Debut date for CBSN is TBD. Prelims + main card there. Bellator first aired on Spike/Paramount in Jan. ’13.
Future could lead to big CBS/Showtime events but that's not planned yet.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) August 21, 2020
All sources I’ve talked to expressed excitement over the move. Feeling was Paramount was not a great fit. They’d prefer to be on a sports channel and will get promoted more there.
My 2 cents: I agree.
Ratings for Bellator MMA have noticeably sagged over the past couple of years, particularly since Spike rebranded as Paramount Network, and cable companies such as Comcast took it off basic cable packages. CBS Sports Network does not have too many major live sports contracts outside of UEFA Champions League soccer and lower-level college football games, so viewership is unlikely to shoot back up to what we saw from around 2013-2017. However, CBS Sports Network does have the Bellator MMA: Recharged program, which showcases some of the promotion’s best moments over the years, so it’s only logical to get live fights as well.
By the way, Bellator still has a contract with DAZN but DAZN has noticeably been shedding sports rights around the world and is having a significant problem getting big boxing matches booked with a reduced budget. Helwani also reports that the Bellator-DAZN partnership is uncertain.
Techinically, there is one year left on the DAZN deal, but their future isn’t 100%, so that is TBD, too.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) August 21, 2020
If all holds true then you can expect to find Bellator on CBS Sports Network in the immediate future, and perhaps occasionally on CBS and Showtime down the line.