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Fight Opinion Radio: Will Spike TV’s 2005 MMA marketing playbook win fans over a decade later?

By Zach Arnold | September 6, 2014

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Time length of this week’s show: 42 minutes (19 MB MP3)

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Get a hold of us by messaging Judge Jeff on Twitter (@whaledog) and Zach on Twitter (@fightopinion).

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If you watched the Friday night wars in Connecticut between UFC & Bellator, you know exactly what happened. Spike TV is going all-in with a pro-wrestling vision against the vision of MMA that UFC & Fox is pushing right now with a flood of cards and rankings.

The UFC has great business going in Mexico. The momentum is on their side for the November 15th Mexico City PPV with Fabricio Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez. Bellator is countering with their own event in San Diego head-to-head on TV with Stephan Bonnar vs. Tito Ortiz and Michael Chandler vs. Will Brooks.

The new direction of Bellator has elicited a love-it-or-hate-it response. That much is clear. What we don’t know is whether or not the decade-old Spike TV playbook will work or not in a climate where MMA has (somewhat) matured as a sport. The gap between Stephan Bonnar and Jacare Souza in talent is as wide as the Grand Canyon. What Bellator is gambling on right now is attracting a segment of MMA fans, new and old, who are disgruntled with UFC’s current product and think the fun is missing.

Enter Sean Wheelock, the voice of Bellator on Spike TV. We had a chance to sit down with him this week on Fight Opinion Radio and talk about a number of issues, both past and present. Sean recently co-authored a book with UFC founder Art Davie. Davie came from an advertising background and created UFC from scratch. Today’s UFC product is a far cry from what he was trying to market. Hell, it’s a far cry from X-ARM extreme arm wrestling.

Nobody is better equipped to talk about past MMA history and frame it in context to what is happening in today’s MMA landscape than Sean Wheelock. His interview on Fight Opinion Radio is definitely worth your time to listen to. He not only brings an insider’s perspective but also a genuine fan’s perspective on what is good and what is missing in today’s MMA product.

For us, there is one simple question that Spike TV must answer with Bellator’s new creative direction: what can Spike TV do to lure in burned out MMA fans or create new MMA fans? What is it going to take? Is this a matter of growing the audience pie or is this a matter strictly of competitive intrusion?

Special thanks

To Zack Nelson for his past & present support of Fight Opinion Radio.

Topics: Bellator, Fight Opinion Radio, Jeff Thaler, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold, podcasts | No Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |


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