Viewing mixed martial arts became a little more online accessible as Bellator MMA announced a new multimillion-dollar partnership with Premier Group’s streaming service DAZN at a midtown press conference on Tuesday.
Exact dollar figures were not announced, although the multiyear deal was said to be in the nine figures.
“Make no mistake, Bellator is on its way up,” Bellator’s CEO Scott Coker at Tuesday’s press conference. “If you think about the global impact we’ve had over the past 18 months. I said we wanted to build a base and make this strong. We started bringing in some free agents [as well as] started building from the bottom up. But [one of the goals] was to go international. So we started fights in London, Belfast, Tel Aviv, Budapest. We’re now global with our partnership with DAZN to further that mission to bring live fights around the globe.”
As part of the deal, the U.K.-based DAZN will stream 22 Bellator events per year, seven of those being exclusive while the other 15 will be shared with Bellator’s current TV partner Paramount. It’s the second U.S. deal for DAZN, which recently signed a $1 billion deal with Matchroom Boxing. Bellator is owned by Viacom.
DAZN, which currently operates in Canada, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Japan, will begin operations in the U.S. and Italy over the summer. No subscription price has been announced yet by CEO James Rushton, but he did say there will be a first-month trial basis for subscribers.
“Our multiyear streaming partnership with Bellator is a significant step in the development of DAZN and our fight sports offering,” Rushton said. “As the new destination for Bellator fans to watch all the action, it’s our aim to grow the popularity of the sport on the world stage.”
The added revenue from its partnership with DAZN will help Bellator add even more top-tier free agent fighters to its league, as it did by signing former UFC light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. It’ll be two other signees, current middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi and welterweight champion Rory MacDonald, who will kick off the new streaming deal when they headline Bellator’s Sept. 29 Bellator card at San Jose’s SAP Center.
The deal should also be good news for veterans such as Quintin “Rampage” Jackson, who on the undercard, will face Wanderlei Silva for the fourth time. “The only thing I care about is, am I going to make more money,” Jackson said. “To be honest, with this streaming, will they make more money for me? That’s all I care about.”
Locally, no plans have been finalized yet for a Bellator card in New York City, but Coker said that he’s looking to bring an event to New York City — possibly Madison Square Garden — at the end of this year or early 2019.