Game changer for mixed martial arts as Sky Sports ink historic deal for 20 live Bellator events in 2019

Game changer for mixed martial arts as Sky Sports ink historic deal for 20 live Bellator events in 2019

Channel 5, meanwhile, airs a live event from Newcastle tomorrow night (February 9, 10pm-12), featuring rising British prospects a couple of handpicked fighters from the elite camps of the USA. 

On February 23, Sky Sports will show Bellator 217, from Dublin, with popular Irishman James Gallagher headlining. 

The deal with Channel 5 was presented Wednesday this week by head of the Viacom UK office James Currell, and perhaps a more logical coupling, given that Bellator, bought outright three years ago by Viacom, also owns Channel 5.

But the most significant position of the European series on terrestrial television, is that it is has been shoehorned into Saturday night prime time slots, where Channel 5 has had success with boxing involving heavyweights Tyson Fury and his cousin Hughie Fury, generating respective chart-topping numbers at its peak of respectively 3 million and one million viewers.

Fight sports are not for everyone, of course, but to have mainstream exposure has always been the goal of this hybrid of martial arts, still only three decades old.

Fortuitously, live fight nights are now vogue with broadcasters, Bellator having also, under its CEO Scott Coker, having signed a US$140 million three-year deal with streaming service DAZN in the USA for seven exclusive events a year.     

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