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« | Home | »

Report: NBC wants MMA programming

By Zach Arnold | November 19, 2007

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By Zach Arnold

MediaPost Publications is reporting that NBC is interested in airing MMA programming next year if the writers’ strike continues. The article claims that it is unlikely that UFC would be involved in the mix, as talks between UFC and CBS are heating up.

The idea that we could see UFC on CBS and a promotion like M-1 or the IFL on NBC, both in prime time in Q1 2008, would be a huge credibility boost for the MMA industry in North America.

Quick thoughts: The bigger, if not more ominous question for MMA purists, is what Vince McMahon would have to say about all of this. McMahon currently airs programming on NBC Universal stations USA Network & The Sci-Fi Network. Shane McMahon, Vince’s son, has long wanted to get into the MMA business. Considering the long friendship that the McMahon family has had with NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol, and it is not out of the realm of possibility that WWE would be interested in creating a new MMA organization if guaranteed prime-time real estate coverage.

Topics: IFL, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 28 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

28 Responses to “Report: NBC wants MMA programming”

  1. D.Capitated says:

    If the IFL ended up on NBC or CBS (since Loretta Hunt is insisting that CBS/UFC isn’t a done deal yet) that’s a hell of an upgrade over MyNetworkTV. As long as they don’t piss off the fans with the first couple shows they might actually have a chance at not only surviving, but thriving. That’s in stark contrast to the vision many have for the company.

    I’m really interested where on the cable dial Bodog shows up. I could deal with that Life and Outdoor TV channel again now that I have it. Really, Bodog has had some decent fights on their programs, particularly in the varying women’s divisions.

  2. Zach Arnold says:

    If McMahon makes a serious pitch to NBC Universal, I don’t see how the IFL will be able to match WWE’s firepower.

  3. Pierre-Luc Allie says:

    What if Mcmahon was the solution to IFL problems?

  4. [...] Zach Arnold from FightOpinion.com also brings up that the WWE could be a possibility as an MMA option for NBC. The WWE already has existing deals to televise wrestling on NBC and the USA Network, which are both properties of NBC Universal. And when Vince McMahon created the XFL, NBC got involved as a television partner. [...]

  5. Mike David (Euthyphro) says:

    Vince has a bad record in leagues that end in “FL”

    In all seriousness, I continue to be shocked that Vince hasn’t diversified into MMA. Even if they were only promoting a “Titan MMA” card every other month or so, it seems like a successful expansion effort for the company given their media presence and pre-existing marketing capability. Much like Mark Cuban leveraged his ownership of HDNet and an arena to start his fight league, it makes good business sense for the WWE to leverage their marketing ability, relationship with the NBC family of networks, and experience in promoting “fight” shows in large arenas to start up an MMA promotion.

    At the very least, just let Shane give it a try.

  6. [...] to reports both NBC and CBS (and likely other major cable channels as well) are considering adding MMA to their lineup. The move is a response to a recent writers strike which has put many [...]

  7. D.Capitated says:

    If McMahon makes a serious pitch to NBC Universal, I don’t see how the IFL will be able to match WWE’s firepower.

    Vince has waited too long to just start up an MMA group. Additionally, there’s clearly not a lot of interest from the casual weekly TV watching wrestling fans in MMA, and thus I see no reason for him to attempt to diversify. Who is he going to sign? Most everyone of value is attached to the IFL, UFC, or ProElite that can speak a western language. Where would he run shows?

    I don’t think Vince will ever attempt an MMA organization and I wouldn’t expect anything less than a massive failure if it were to happen. His name attaching itself to MMA is a very negative thing in the minds of sportswriters and a huge section of fans because of his past history. But, I know what will happen. Instead there will be 4 refutations about how TUF took away Raw fans (without the numbers dropping appreciably to demonstrate it) and about UWFi and Sakuraba and a ton of other stuff that has no bearing on the sport of MMA in the US.

    (besides, WWE on NBC draws crappy ratings and crappy advertisers. why would they be interested in product that’s gonna do that given his reputation instead of going with a more reputable MMA organization?)

  8. Mateo says:

    Will NBC be smart and demand that whatever MMA org they sign to deliver programming for them use a cage? They should in my opinion.

    And I don’t see how anyone can trust Vince McMahon (or even Shane) to run an MMA org. His past comments have shown he is very against the idea of having no control over the winner. If he were to do a 180 and get into MMA, I think there would be a threat for something to not be on the level for every single show. (Remember that manufactored drama between Jesse Ventura and the coach of the New York football team during the XFL’s only season?) He can’t help wanting to control things that should be out of his control.

  9. Jim Allcorn says:

    I’ve personally got no problem with the McMahons bankrolling an MMA promotion/organization. As long as said organization is run as an entirely separate entity from the WWE. If ol’ Vince were willing to go that route, then I say let them “give it a go”.

    But, that would mean Vince being willing to give Shane a check for the start up funds & total control of this hypothetical “Titan or Titan Sports MMA” & then stepping aside. REALLY stepping aside. And also, Shane would have to give up any role he has in the WWE. Both behind the scenes & as a worker, of course.

  10. Ultimo Santa says:

    “But, that would mean Vince being willing to give Shane a check for the start up funds & total control of this hypothetical “Titan or Titan Sports MMA” & then stepping aside. REALLY stepping aside.”

    That’s exactly right – putting aside Vince’s ego and letting someone else run things? WILL NOT HAPPEN.

    He had the opportunity to let ECW thrive with Paul Heyman as the booker, but decided to take it over, ruin it, and lose 70% of the audience within 6 months. His ego was more important than making money.

    I have confidence the same thing would happen to a McMahon-created MMA promotion: it would start off with potential, but soon we’d be seeing scripted promos, overblown storylines, and who knows…eventually worked finishes?

  11. The Gaijin says:

    Geeez – UFC and PRIDE have never done any manufactured/overblown storylines or somewhat scripted promos before…that will just ruin mma.

    Almost every time 2 people are set up for a fight, it creates some type of storyline and guys will run their mouths and act like they hate each other, only after the fight to reveal – “they were just doing it to up the buyrates”.

    You see it all the time in boxing and im certain guys have and still do it in mma.

  12. Todd Martin says:

    Given what a disaster Saturday Night’s Main Event has been, I would think NBC would be suspect about Vince’s ability to draw a larger audience to that network in 2007. There’s also the problem that when WWE was considering getting into MMA, there was still some talent out there to sign. Now, there’s nothing. Just about everyone is locked up by one promotion or another. WWE MMA still might be more attractive than the IFL, but that’s not saying much.

  13. D.Capitated says:

    Geeez – UFC and PRIDE have never done any manufactured/overblown storylines or somewhat scripted promos before…that will just ruin mma.

    Almost every time 2 people are set up for a fight, it creates some type of storyline and guys will run their mouths and act like they hate each other, only after the fight to reveal – “they were just doing it to up the buyrates”.

    You see it all the time in boxing and im certain guys have and still do it in mma.

    There’s a giant chasm between people talking trash and fake pullaparts in MMA and coffin matches, evil foriegner gimmicks (a la Kamala or Yokozuna), HHH with a sledgehammer, summoning fire, or god knows what else in pro wrestling.

  14. Ultimo Santa says:

    Yeah, there is a VERY big difference between a PRIDE/UFC ’storyline’ (ie. explain why they’re fighting, showing them in a stare-down during the weigh-ins, etc.) and what McMahon could *potentially* do with a MMA promotion.

  15. D.Capitated says:

    Given what a disaster Saturday Night’s Main Event has been, I would think NBC would be suspect about Vince’s ability to draw a larger audience to that network in 2007. There’s also the problem that when WWE was considering getting into MMA, there was still some talent out there to sign. Now, there’s nothing. Just about everyone is locked up by one promotion or another. WWE MMA still might be more attractive than the IFL, but that’s not saying much.

    I think the question about how he’ll draw that audience is there, along with the fact that really, wrestling is persona non grata in media right now. Who wants to do more business with Vince than they have to given the way the Chris Benoit murder suicide blew up in their faces? Particularly in a venue he really has no experience in whatsoever. I mean, Vince can bring in a big set and some large sums of money to the experiment but I doubt he can do much more than that right now, and where he’s gonna spend that money is beyond me.

  16. [...] Zach Arnold from FightOpinion.com also brings up that the WWE could be a possibility as an MMA option for NBC. The WWE already has existing deals to televise wrestling on NBC and the USA Network, which are both properties of NBC Universal. And when Vince McMahon created the XFL, NBC got involved as a television partner. [...]

  17. Jim Allcorn says:

    Well, I never said that it was likely that “Mr. McMahon” would ever deign to actually commit to doing those things. Just that, IF he did so, I wouldn’t have a problem with Titan getting involved in MMA.

    I’m just not one of those individuals who demands that MMA in this hemisphere stay as far away from an association with pro wrestling as possible. I say, as long as the association is strictly financial & not “creative” in any way, I don’t have a problem with it.

    I mean, let’s face it. While the UFC & Pro Elite like to point to professional boxing as their closest rival or business model or whatever … As long as they operate their organizations totally “in house” while acting as managers, promoters AND sanctioning bodies, I’m sorry, but they have much more in common with the WWE than the WBC.

  18. The Gaijin says:

    “There’s a giant chasm between people talking trash and fake pullaparts in MMA and coffin matches, evil foriegner gimmicks (a la Kamala or Yokozuna), HHH with a sledgehammer, summoning fire, or god knows what else in pro wrestling.”

    At what point did I ever state or allude that this was acceptable, happened or would happen in MMA?

    I know you have this “scorch the earth” mentality against anyone comparing mma to pro wrestling, but that’s a ridiculous stretch from what I said and the reply you gave.

    UFC/PRIDE/MMA do set up “storylines” and create fake/hyped animosity and guys like Tito, F. Shamrock, Baroni and Rampage try to portray “heel personalities” in order to draw money for fights. I dont think that’s really that far away from “pro wrestling storylines”, especially in light of WWE abandoning much of their gimmick/fantasy storylines over the last 10 years.

  19. D. Capitated says:

    UFC/PRIDE/MMA do set up “storylines” and create fake/hyped animosity and guys like Tito, F. Shamrock, Baroni and Rampage try to portray “heel personalities” in order to draw money for fights. I dont think that’s really that far away from “pro wrestling storylines”, especially in light of WWE abandoning much of their gimmick/fantasy storylines over the last 10 years.

    There’s plenty of gimmick storylines. Dude, Mr. McMahon’s illegitimate son? I mean, c’mon. That guys like Tito and Baroni talk trash isn’t necessarily them working as “heels” anymore than TO does. I mean, get this, in real life, some people really are conceited. Merely being conceited and being conceited and faking your death and firing people and putting them in dumpsters and having your daughter be crucified by a zombie character is not the same thing.

  20. The Gaijin says:

    “Yeah, there is a VERY big difference between a PRIDE/UFC ’storyline’ (ie. explain why they’re fighting, showing them in a stare-down during the weigh-ins, etc.) and what McMahon could *potentially* do with a MMA promotion.”

    Seeing the types of punishment that have gone down for fights even looking like someone was “handholding” a guy along in a competitive fight (Shannon Ritch), I highly doubt you’d get away with anything remotely close to any pro-wrestling gimmickry.

    And if it did actually happen at one event, I would suspect that no commission in the country would approve any license following that.

  21. The Gaijin says:

    I’m pretty sure we arent going to see Kimo’s illegitimate son reveal himself ringside at a fight anytime soon or find out that Sean Salmon was faking seizures to lull future opponents into thinking he was an easy fight.

    Maybe we’re just off on what we’re both talking at here, but I don’t think we’re in any danger of seeing anything close to those type of ridiculous pro wrestling storylines, now or ever.

  22. D. Capitated says:

    Seeing the types of punishment that have gone down for fights even looking like someone was “handholding” a guy along in a competitive fight (Shannon Ritch), I highly doubt you’d get away with anything remotely close to any pro-wrestling gimmickry.

    This is absolutely true. And you know the microscope would be out for a Vince run group.

    Maybe we’re just off on what we’re both talking at here, but I don’t think we’re in any danger of seeing anything close to those type of ridiculous pro wrestling storylines, now or ever.

    I don’t think we are either because I doubt seriously that any pro wrestling promoter is about to dive into a crowded MMA pool. Kimo did consider doing that wrestling/MMA thing though….

  23. Mike David (Euthyphro) says:

    Thinking about this a bit more, the absolute best time for the WWE to have gotten in to the game would have been with the folding of the WFA. Had they acquired that stable of fighters, they could have been well positioned with Jeremy Lappen running that side of things. Rampage is now and was then a marketable star to build a new company around.

    Lappen (who is now with Elite XC I believe) could have done quite a bit more with the organization if he had WWE’s bankroll and media reach. Ah, what might have been…

  24. MMA Fan says:

    lappen did such a great job with WFA… lol

    Vince’s guy would be Rick Bassman answering to Shane McMahon.

  25. Jonathan says:

    Zach-

    Why even bring up the WWE? Are you that big of a mark?

  26. Well think of it John

    Vince’s company is the highest one in Universal in terms of ratings. Now NBC annouces it’s looking for MMA programing. In Vince’s eyes, this is a slap in the face. Especially when the report comes out the same day he has a big named wrestling come back to the company.

    So what’s Vince gonna do? He’s going to try to create his own shindig as fast as he can before anyone from office talks to M-1 or IFL and present it to them with Shane forming the head. Possibly buy out Valor and try to hype the trash there as “the best”.

    Vince won’t be going into the MMA business because it’s hot. He’ll be going in to “keep his spot” if you will forgive the term. He could give a flying fuck about MMA. He hates that shit.

  27. D.Capitated says:

    Vince’s company is the highest one in Universal in terms of ratings. Now NBC annouces it’s looking for MMA programing. In Vince’s eyes, this is a slap in the face. Especially when the report comes out the same day he has a big named wrestling come back to the company.

    So what’s Vince gonna do? He’s going to try to create his own shindig as fast as he can before anyone from office talks to M-1 or IFL and present it to them with Shane forming the head. Possibly buy out Valor and try to hype the trash there as “the best”.

    Vince won’t be going into the MMA business because it’s hot. He’ll be going in to “keep his spot” if you will forgive the term. He could give a flying fuck about MMA. He hates that shit.

    But its all assumptive. There’s been no news about Vince McMahon starting an MMA organization, running an MMA organization, promoting an MMA show, et al. It assumes that because Vince McMahon believes that MMA is a serious challenger (which it may or may not be depending on your POV) that he needs to counter by fighting back with his own MMA organization, in spite of the fact that he doesn’t have one, has never had one, has not run MMA bouts (don’t even think of Brawl For All), has no fighters under contract, etc etc etc.

    In the end I don’t think he buys anyone or even seriously considers starting one up, and then given the choice between Vince McMahon’s MMA startup and a firmly established company or even a fairly new one with longstanding connections (like M-1), that will be the route NBC goes rather than tempt fate with a Vince McMahon organization which would be the butt of jokes from the time it was announced to when it folded 9 months later.

  28. [...] to reports both NBC and CBS (and likely other major cable channels as well) are considering adding MMA to their lineup. The move is a response to a recent writers strike which has put many [...]

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