The NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) has been airing World Series of Fighting (WSOF) events since their inaugural show in November of 2012, but the cable sports network recently reached out to another mixed martial arts organizations about airing preliminary cards.
Sources have told TheMMAReport.com that NBC Sports Network recently reached out to Bellator MMA about broadcasting their preliminary cards for the upcoming tenth season and beyond. In previous Bellator MMA seasons, the preliminary cards have been streamed online at Spike.com.
The NBCSN ended up offering a multi-year deal to Bellator MMA that would pay the California based mixed martial arts organization a rights fee in the millions for the ability to broadcast the Bellator MMA preliminary cards.
However, the two sides were unable to come to an agreement. With the two sides being unable to make a deal, the Bellator MMA preliminary cards will continue to be streamed live on Spike.com for the upcoming tenth season, which will begin on February 28th.
WSOF Executive Vice President Ali Abdel-Aziz recently issued a challenge to Bellator on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani on MMAFighting.com. He challenged Bellator to a pay-per-view fight to determine who the number two mixed martial arts organization is. Bellator did not responded to the challenge, which should not be a surprise.
Along with issuing a challenge to Bellator, Abdel-Aziz stated that Bellator had “done something disgusting and very dirty.” He went on to say that Bellator tried to take something that is not theirs. TheMMAReport.com asked Abdel-Aziz following World Series of Fighting 8 to elaborate on this statement, but he stated that this was not the time to announce what Bellator supposedly did.
“I will let people know about it, but not now,” Abdel-Aziz said, “I am not ready to let this out yet, but you will know about it when it’s time.”
The WSOF and NBCSN entered into a three year partnership at the beginning of 2013, and the agreement between the two companies called for a minimum of six events annually to be seen in over 80 million homes on the sports cable network.
Prior to this agreement, the inaugural WSOF event on NBCSN in November of 2012 was a time buy. If you are unfamiliar with that term, this means that WSOF paid the NBCSN to have their fight card air live on the cable channel.
Since the agreement between the WSOF and NBCSN was announced eleven months ago, WSOF has expressed that NBCSN pays a rights fee to the WSOF.
However, sources have told TheMMAReport.com that the agreement between the two companies is a barter deal, and NBCSN does not pay a rights licensing fee to the mixed martial arts organization.
TheMMAReport.com reached out to the WSOF for a comment on their television deal with NBCSN regarding if they get a rights fee from NBCSN and if they are the only MMA promotion that can air on NBCSN. The WSOF responded by saying there would be an announcement in the next two weeks and they could not comment until then.
With the NBCSN attempting to have the Bellator MMA preliminary cards on its network, what does this mean for the World Series of Fighting?
During the recent World Series of Fighting 8 Conference Call, WSOF President Ray Sefo was asked about the relationship between his organization and the cable sports network.
“The relationship is great,” Sefo said. “We have a great relationship with the NBC Sports Network and obviously there are a few announcements that need to be made in the coming weeks, but for now, that is where it’s at, and we can’t talk much about that issue.”
After having a high of 264,000 viewers for World Series of Fighting 4 in August, the ratings have gone down each of the last three shows. The most recent World Series of Fighting card in December drew an all time low of 94,000 and that was down 41 percent from their fight card in October.