Leading MMA promotion Bellator has today announced a historic partnership with the BBC, which will see all of Bellator’s 2021 events broadcast live on BBC iPlayer in the UK but it came under fire from Steve Brine MP, a member of parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media & Sport select committee.
Brine told the Telegraph “This is pretty desperate stuff. We don’t know how much the BBC paid for these rights but I think it will sit pretty badly with Test cricket fans missing out their sport or hardworking local journalists losing their jobs at this time.”
Channel 4 has acquired the rights to show England’s Test cricket series.
The ground-breaking deal follows on from the BBC’s broadcast of Bellator’s Paris event in October last year, which was the first time the BBC had aired live MMA on its network.
The partnership affords fans in the UK the opportunity to watch every Bellator event, live, wherever and whenever in the world it is taking place, with the event also available on-demand after the initial broadcast. Bellator events will also benefit from increased prominence across BBC Sport’s digital platforms such as the BBC Sport website and app.
Head of Bellator Europe, David Green, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to bring live Bellator MMA action to millions of UK homes on BBC iPlayer. To have every event from all over the world available for fans in the UK to watch live is something we have been working really hard to achieve and to be able to call the BBC home for Bellator in the UK is really a fantastic moment for us and for the sport.”
President of Bellator MMA, Scott Coker, added: “I am absolutely thrilled to be confirming the BBC as our UK broadcast partner. To have every event on the biggest network in the UK is a great opportunity for Bellator. We look forward to working with the BBC to bring our exciting roster of talent and our extensive events schedule to an ever-growing audience.”
Ben Gallop, Head of Digital, BBC Sport said: “Following on from the success of the Paris show we are delighted to continue our partnership with Bellator. We look forward to bringing live, free to air Bellator action to both existing and new fans of MMA on BBC iPlayer.”