Photo by Jon Swenson, Sharkspage.
BURBANK - In a major step for the fastest-growing sport around the globe, NBC has partnered with world championship promotion company Strikeforce to be the first to premiere a weekly mixed martial arts cage fight series on broadcast television. “Strikeforce on NBC” will premiere the night of April 12 from 2-2:30 a.m. ET on NBC.
The announcement was made by Jerry Petry, Executive Vice President, NBC Universal Television.
“Mixed martial arts has exploded onto the sports scene. Its athletes are tremendous competitors and the sport is one of the fastest growing in the world,” said Petry. “As a leader in this arena, Strikeforce will be able to deliver some of the finest and most intense action ever seen on broadcast TV.”
“It’s truly an honor to have the opportunity to bring the Strikeforce mixed martial arts product to one of the longest-standing and most well-respected national television platforms,” said Strikeforce Chief Executive Officer Scott Coker. “NBC has a history of popular late Saturday TV and in the 80’s NBC’s ‘Saturday Night’s Main Event’ show helped catapult the popularity of professional wrestling. Strikeforce is looking to follow in suit and establish a legacy of its own on the network.”
“Strikeforce on NBC” will air immediately following NBC’s hit poker tournament series, “Poker After Dark” (1-2 a.m. ET/check local listings), the core audience of which—18-34 year old males—matches that of mixed martial arts.
Photo by Jon Swenson, Sharkspage.
Elite Xtreme Combat struck first in the network television race. Now it’s Strikeforce, not the Ultimate Fighting Championship, that has reportedly secured a chance to show their product to millions around the world with a soon-to-be finalized deal with NBC.
The news comes from our friends at MMA Junkie, who are also reporting that a formal announcement from both sides is expected at some point next week.
Unlike their promotional partners in EliteXC, Strikeforce’s deal with NBC will actually apparently call for past fights to be shown in highlight shows, a style similar to the current UFC Unleashed and PRIDE Fighting Championships programs that air on Spike TV and FSN respectively.
However speculation suggests that a live event produced for the channel isn’t completely out of the question for the future.
The news comes two weeks after EliteXC announced that they had come to terms with CBS on a multi-year agreement. The deal calls for CBS to air live events on Saturday nights in a prime-time slot. CBS will broadcast four events per year.
The International Fight League became the first mixed martial arts promotion to land a network television deal when they partnered with MyNetworkTV to televise a number of taped highlight shows and one live event last year.
However the network has since has placed IFL programming “on hiatus”, meaning they may or may not decide to continue airing IFL-related shows, potentially leaving EliteXC as the lone promotion with as much exposure.
After years of promoting strictly kickboxing, Strikeforce began to focus on mixed martial arts in 2006 and hired Frank Shamrock and Scott Coker to oversee their new venture. The organization put on the first-ever MMA event sanctioned by the state of California in the same year and also broke the North American attendance record for an MMA event at the same time.
Strikeforce fans will be able to watch Shamrock and undefeated former kickboxer Cung Le meet in an anticipated middleweight bout at the organization’s next event, the upcoming Elite Xtreme Combat and Strikeforce co-promoted “Shamrock vs Cung Le”, which take place on March 29th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.