Gary Shaw speaks at an Elite Xtreme Combat press conference. Photo by Esther Lin/ProElite.
ProElite, the parent company of Elite Xtreme Combat, today announced a new, multi-year network television deal with CBS that will make the promotion only the second in the history of the sport of mixed martial arts to produce an event for live broadcast television.
“Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and a wildly popular entertainment vehicle for upscale, young adult audiences,” said Kelly Kahl, Senior Executive Vice President, CBS Primetime. “It’s original programming for Saturday night; it’s live, creating an event-atmosphere; and it’s something that hasn’t been seen on network television, until now.”
EliteXC heavyweight sensation Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson is expected to headline the first event produced for CBS. The events are scheduled to air on Saturday nights in a prime-time slot. CBS will broadcast four events per year.
“This is a pivotal moment for the sport of mixed martial arts now that a major television network plans to broadcast live MMA events during primetime hours,” said Douglas DeLuca, Chief Executive Officer of ProElite. “We are delighted to enhance our partnership with CBS to bring American audiences the very best in MMA competition through our EliteXC brand.”
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.
The deal also comes close to two months after CBS broke off discussions to air live events with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
“Our world-class fighters and the high production value of our events continue to drive ProElite as a global MMA organization that is fortified by the bedrock foundation of a partnership with CBS,” said Gary Shaw, President of EliteXC. “Broadcasting our events on CBS will instantly engage a new fan base, as well as provide an opportunity for EliteXC to further establish itself as the world’s premier MMA organization.”
Showtime, which partners with Elite Xtreme Combat in producing and televising live events, is owned by CBS. Showtime will continue to air EliteXC events.
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