"Now we're not the type of people to say 'We told you so' but we TOLD YOU SO."
-- Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig, following Ric Flair's Royal Rumble win in 1992
When Bellator signed a deal with MTV2 to air their weekly programming, many were rejoiced at the idea that the company would be featured in over 80 million homes as a sort of sign that Bellator was going to turn the corner despite murmurs that they were close to going under. Fans were reassured by Rebney and others that this deal was the beginning of a new day for Bellator in spite of the disappointment fans felt as a result of not signing with FX network as had previously been rumored. Well, there was at least one person who saw the slow train coming.
"Sorry, this deal is a terrible deal. It's basically signing a death warrant."
Now, the above statement was made weeks ago right when the news was made. The 80 million homes number was debunked easily when it was pointed out that being available in 80 million homes doesn't mean that 80 million people watch it. You see while MTV2 may be in more homes than FSN, that doesn't mean that more people are likely to watch it than FSN. Especially for MMA. Especially for non-UFC MMA. I'd wager that a UFC event on MTV2 would pull less than 300K viewers. Why? Because no one knows where MTV2 is.
While FSN maybe be available in less homes, it has a prime deal with the cable companies to appear in the double-digit channels. It's usually nestled somewhere near ESPN or other channels like SPIKE or Versus. So if you're a channel-flipping, you're much more likely to come across FSN than say MTV2 which is located in the Boondocks. MTV2 is usually in the 200s or 300s near MMA demographic friendly channels like Logo and Hallmark for Women. What's the first rule they teach you in business class? "Greed is good" OK, the second rule? LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION. Why did Marlo and Avon beef? It wasn't because Marlo killed Avon's boy Rock-Rock on Pinsey and Gold. It wasn't because Avon slept with Marlo's girl. It was those prime avenue corners. First question Avon asked when getting out of jail is "What corners we got?" So while MTV3 may be in more homes, they are in a piss-poor location.
Our anonymous soothsayer was rebutted with the idea that Bellator's events would no longer be pre-empted by high school chess tournaments and shown at 3am like they had been on FSN. Once people were able to consistently watch Bellator's product at a set time and date, the company would grow. Right? Well, what's worse that pre-emption? How about directly competing with the UFC and Strikeforce? You see, the dupes at MTV2 thought the best night for a weekly tournament of MMA is the same night of the week the biggest two promotions hold their events. Bellator will be running concurrently (or at least semi-concurrently) as other bigger MMA programming. What better way to make your MTV2 debut than against Strikeforce's March 5th Showtime event featuring Dan Henderson vs Feijao for the 205 title. Oh it gets better. Let's follow that up by going head to head with UFC 128 featuring Rashad Evans and Shogun Rua. The UFC event will almost assuredly come with prelims which extends the comingling of the two products.
Now faced with the UFC (or even Strikeforce) and Bellator, which product do you think the casual audience (the one most needed for Bellator to grow) will choose. Hell, which do you think the hardcores will choose. Unless of course, they decide to not run Bellator in prime time which would be a stupid decision in and of itself.