By Zach Arnold | November 28, 2010
The deadline is approaching for K-1 this week to get everything in order if there is going to be a Dynamite show taking place at Saitama Super Arena. December is already approaching and there is still no official word regarding a television contract between Tokyo Broadcasting System & K-1 for what has been traditionally Japan’s biggest yearly fighting show. If TBS does not offer substantial money to K-1 to produce a NYE event, the question is not whether the Dynamite show will lose money… but just how much will be lost.
There are multiple scenarios on the table. The worst of all worlds would involve K-1 paying TBS for television time. Another bad outcome would be K-1 receiving little or no money (bartering), which would prohibit the promotion from being able to spend the kind of money needed to book big-name talent to pop a big TV rating. If a deal between K-1 and TBS falls apart, K-1 could very well find themselves in a scenario where they run a DREAM-type no-TV event.
(This is the current conventional wisdom amongst some Japanese insiders I’ve talked to over the weekend.)
If that happens, the event will largely be a meaningless exercise that could lose money but not as much as a pay-for-play scenario. If a TV deal falls apart, the smart solution would be for K-1 to cancel the NYE event and either stay on the sidelines or work with Sengoku for their Ariake Colosseum event. (Who would have ever thought that this would be a possibility?) Given that a month ago K-1 tried to portray itself as a ‘big brother helping out a little brother’ by offering to work with Sengoku for their 12/30 Tokyo event, it would be a major loss of face if K-1 canceled the Dynamite event. Which is why, in the end, it’s likely the show will go on in Saitama even without television. This is all about saving face and maintaining image even with a steep price tag. Understand that K-1 needs momentum and something positive to point to in order to maintain their ties with both Fuji TV and Tokyo Broadcasting System. If Dynamite bombs, their future on network television will be shaky.
The stress is enormous right now on K-1’s staff. They have their 12/11 Ariake Colosseum event for Fuji TV that they need to sell tickets for. So far, the primary focus for promotional operations this week has been for the Ariake show. It’s going to be tough for K-1 to sell out that event. Now, combine that with the fact that they are in a terrible position going into the Dynamite show with little or no momentum and something has to give.
In past years with the Dynamite event, event planning often started as early as mid-September. Sketch out a plan, start having ad agencies put out feelers, and by November get a television contract done. We are now heading into December and there’s no (official) deal worked out. The silence from both K-1 and Dynamite on this front is deafening. This is the week we will find out whether or not the Dynamite show has a TV deal. There’s always the possibility that K-1 could try to get the show on another network, but at this point those options would be severely limited because NYE plans are already tentatively in place for the major networks like Nippon TV, Fuji TV, etc. TV Tokyo is a possibility, but it’s the smallest of the over-the-air channels in terms of reach and would be viewed as a major step-down image wise compared to TBS.
The scope of just how much planning going into a big show like Dynamite cannot be understated. There’s the TV side of the equation. There’s the actual production of the show at the arena. There’s the promotional operations machine. Then you have to sell advertising (and this is especially difficult if you don’t have the help of an ad agency connected to a major TV network). On top of that, there’s the actual matchmaking and construction of a fight card where you have to deal with tons of egos and demands from both agents and talent. You have to book hotel rooms and make sure everything logistically is sound. I understand that this is not K-1’s first rodeo, but the promotion is not on the same level as PRIDE was when it comes time to doing work from the ground-up for a massive show. K-1 has always been the TV promotion and PRIDE was the live house promotion. With the TV deal in complete limbo, K-1’s in a major predicament here.
On the TBS web site, there are no details announced regarding a deal with K-1. There is a match announcement of Hiroyuki Takaya vs. Bibiano Fernandes and that’s it. Nothing else. Amongst the ticket brokers, there is only basic event information given out.
The long-term survival prospects for K-1 will be largely determined by how well the 12/11 Ariake Colosseum and 12/31 Saitama Super Arena shows do business-wise. If they are money losers, the promotion will be on its last legs. If the shows can somehow break even or make a little money, then life goes on.
This is one of the most important weeks in the history of K-1’s organization.