All the talk in the past 24 hours about CBS — a major television network — beaming EliteXC mixed martial arts bouts into tens of millions of homes nationwide in a primetime slot have today been confirmed.
ProElite — the parent company of EliteXC — issued a press release that reveals a multi-year deal has been struck with CBS to broadcast four LIVE two-hour EliteXC events annually on Saturday nights.
EliteXC already stages live shows on the premium cable channel Showtime, which is owned by the CBS Television Network.
Here's a snip from Douglas DeLuca, Chief Executive Officer of ProElite, on the landmark agreement:
"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. We are delighted to enhance our partnership with CBS to bring American audiences the very best in MMA competition through our EliteXC brand."
In addition, CBS and ProElite.com will collaborate on generating interactive content for both companies' platforms, including online offerings that could include streaming of events and clips syndicated across the CBS Audience Network, according to the release.
ProElite.com often streams the non-televised portions of its fight cards free over the Internet. Perhaps these will also now be featured on CBSSports.com in addition to other "enhanced content."
Naturally, EliteXC Events Live President shared his thoughts on the new partnership.
Here's a snip:
"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."
No official word or timetable was given for the debut event. However, sources such as Yahoo!Sports.com indicate that it could be as soon as April and feature "Internet street-fighting sensation" Kimbo Slice in an event that will take place in either Atlantic City, N.J. or the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
This is enormous news for EliteXC, as well as the sport of mixed martial arts. It's no secret that the UFC — certainly the most popular mixed martial arts brand in the United States — was gunning for a similar deal with CBS.
However, disagreements over the creative control of the production of the events reportedly sunk the deal, as well as a potential deal with HBO.
Once again EliteXC has beat UFC to the punch. It remains to be seen whether or not UFC President Dana White has an ace up his sleeve and can somehow trump this news with a looming announcement that his promotion has reached a similar deal with a major network such as ABC or FOX.
For now, however, it's EliteXC's turn in the spotlight. Hopefully, the promotion understands the importance this deal has on the growth and perception of the sport and can elevate it to a whole new level.
It's a massive responsibility.