CBS is expanding its MMA coverage.
On Tuesday, CBS Sports and Combate Global announced that CBS would be the new English-language home for the company’s events in America.
Here’s a blurb from the release, outlining some details about the new deal, which seemingly runs through 2023.
CBS Sports’ live coverage of Combate Global debuts on CBS Sports Network on June 25, with action continuing on Paramount+ exclusively from July 9 through the remainder of the 2021 Combate Global schedule which concludes in December. Paramount+ will feature 30 live events annually in 2022 and 2023. In addition, CBS Sports Network will complement Combate coverage with a weekly one-hour recap show with highlights of that week’s card. Details of CBS Sports’ debut fight on June 25 and the remaining 2021 Combate schedule will be announced on a future date.
Combate 30-minute event preview shows and weekly hour-long recap shows will accompany the live event action programming on Paramount+. CBS Sports Network also will feature re-airs of Combate events with Combate’s fight library available on-demand on Paramount+.
Viacom (which merged back with CBS in 2019) has been the majority owner of Bellator MMA for nearly a decade. Bellator events, however, don’t air on Paramount+ – they became a Showtime property earlier this year following a brief run on CBS Sports Network. I do think the decision to place the two separate promotions on two different platforms *run by the same company* is a strange one, but given ViacomCBS’s ownership of Bellator, I can somewhat understand them wanting to position it as a more “premium” sports offering alongside their boxing coverage.
But back to Combate for a minute, this was a natural step for the company. AXS TV used to be a destination for live MMA (HDNet forever!), but that has fallen off in recent years, with just Invicta FC (which it purchased earlier this year) under its label. Barring a move to ESPN+ (where it would be overshadowed to a ridiculous extent by the UFC, and to a lesser extent by the PFL), CBS seemed like the most natural fit. Paramount+’s array of international soccer rights seems to fit in with Combate Global’s approach to matchmaking and roster construction.
Even though Bellator is also under the CBS banner, its placement on Showtime lets Combate stand alone and (theoretically) shine. This also could lead to copromotional supercards between the two companies, which would be an interesting development.