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Spike TV, Bellator Look to Punch Up PPV Buys With NYC Event

On Saturday (June 24) mixed marital arts organization Bellator MMA will step into the pay-per-view arena with its Chael Sonnen/Wanderlei Silva-headlined fight card.

TheBellator NYC: Sonnen vs. Silvaevent, originating for New York City’s Madison Square Garden, will feature a rare 4K PPV feed for fight fans with a 4K-ready television. The 4K feed will cost $59.99, $10 higher than the fight’s suggested PPV retail price, said company officials.

I recently spoke to Spike TV senior vice president of sports and specials Jon Slusser about the upcoming PPV event as well as Bellator’s future PPV aspirations. And edited version of the interview appears below.

Thomas Umstead: Why did Bellator decide now was the right time to jump into the PPV arena?

Jon Slusser: Pay-per-view events at their core are about the fight, and when you have the fights that are good enough to support a pay per view then you can start down that path. Not only has Scott created an incredible card with title fights featuring some of the biggest names in the history of the sport, but also we're doing it in a place that is right down the street from our offices in the media capital of the world. This is our biggest show ever and we're bringing everything we got. We have fantastic pay-per-view partners in people like In Demand, DirecTV and Dish, and we have long-standing, multi-year relationships with these companies. This is one more way not just to build and develop our business but to strengthen our relationships with those PPV providers.

RTU: The Bellator event will be offered in 4K … how important is that for Bellator in its attempt to draw in viewers for the PPV event?

JS: We pride ourselves on our broadcast and our ability to entertain our fans both inside the cage and out. Sports fans always want things in the highest resolution that they can get it. The first adopters for new resolution technologies are people who watch sports. We want to give them the action in the highest resolution possible and to be on the cutting edge of providing the best experience possible for our fans and for our consumers. We always try to deliver as much as we can in and around our fights, so whether that's the entertainment in the arena or delivering something like 4K we try to do as much as we can to make the viewing experience great.

RTU: Will Bellator look to do more PPV events in the future?

JS: Absolutely. This isn’t just a one-off for us – it’s a new line of business. Like I said earlier the only way that's possible is to have a roster of talent so deep that you can support multiple pay-per-view events per year. So this is the start of a line of business; it's the start of this relationship with our great paper providers and partners, and its the start of what Scott Cocker's going to be providing to the fans.

RTU: Having said that, is there a possibility fans will see another PPV event before the end of the year?

JS: We have not announced what our next one will be but there is a next one coming soon.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.