Patricio Pitbull Bellator May 11, 2019; Rosemont, IL, USA; Patricio Freire (blue gloves) celebrates with his championship belts after defeating Michael Chandler (red gloves) during Bellator 221 at Allstate Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The Professional Fighters League (PFL) is keeping Bellator events on a separate platform from its own events.

On Tuesday, Warner Bros. Discovery announced a deal that would bring the Bellator Champions Series to Max and truTV.

The PFL acquired Bellator from Paramount in November. Bellator events aired on Showtime, which Paramount announced was shutting down its sports brand last year, in recent years.

PFL has a media rights deal with ESPN, which includes events on ESPN’s linear networks as well as ESPN+.

WBD’s deal with Bellator will bring live events, beginning with Friday’s show in Belfast, to Max. Additionally, Bellator content will be available on truTV in the network’s newly-launched TNT Sports on truTV evening block.

Here’s the full lineup of Bellator events this year, which concludes with a New Year’s Eve show at a still-unannounced location.

  • Friday, March 22, 1pm E.T. – Bellator Champions Series Belfast – The SSE Arena, Belfast
  • Friday, May 17 – Bellator Champions Series Paris – Accor Arena
  • Saturday, June 22 – Bellator Champions Series Dublin – 3Arena
  • Saturday, September 7 – Bellator Champions Series San Diego – Pechanga Arena
  • Saturday, September 14 – Bellator Champions Series London – OVO Wembley
  • Saturday, October 12 – Bellator Champions Series Chicago – Wintrust Arena
  • Saturday, November 16 – Bellator Champions Series Paris – ADIDAS Arena
  • Tuesday, December 31 – Bellator Champions Series – TBD

Max will also air a pair of all-access Bellator docuseries, Fight Camp Confidential and Fight Week, which both premiere on Thursday, March 21.

Bellator library content, dating back a decade and a half, will also be included on Max, though the exact amount of included fights and events is currently unknown.

“Following our historic acquisition of Bellator, Professional Fighters League is proud to partner with Warner Bros. Discovery for the highly anticipated Bellator Champions Series to stream exclusively on Max for fans across the United States, at no extra cost to subscribers, when the global franchise launches on March 22,” said Peter Murray, CEO, Professional Fighters League. “We’re excited for audiences to tune into Bellator’s new home on Max for eight Bellator Champions Series events in 2024 taking place in iconic cities around the globe, featuring world title fights and the biggest stars in combat sports. There’s an incredible demand for premium, year-round MMA content from major media platforms and this is the latest milestone in PFL’s ambition to bring the sport’s best to audiences around the world.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Professional Fighters League to introduce a new live sport to the U.S. Warner Bros. Discovery content portfolio,” said Josh Walker, Chief Financial & Strategy Officer, Warner Bros. Discovery Streaming. “The addition of Bellator Champions Series offers our viewers an opportunity to experience highly anticipated mixed martial arts, nicely complementing our robust slate of can’t miss programming.”

Content from Bellator is available on all levels of Max subscriptions.

Moving to Max is the latest twist in Bellator’s broadcast strategy since its launch in 2008. Bellator’s first season aired on ESPN Deportes, and the second and third aired on Fox Sports Net. Beginning in season four, Bellator began airing on Viacom-owned networks, beginning with MTV2. It also had a long run on Spike/SpikeTV, before its rebrand as Paramount Network. Following the rebrand, Bellator cut a five-year deal with DAZN, only to see it end early thanks to the pandemic. Events then moved to the CBS Sports Network and later to Showtime before the shuttering of the Showtime Sports brand and the eventual sale of Bellator to the PFL.

And now, Bellator is in bed with Warner Bros. Discovery, which airs AEW pro wrestling events. Picking up Bellator rights actually does seem to fit in with WBD’s strategy to bolster its TNT Sports brand, which has already added MotoGP races and looped in cycling events this year.

[Warner Bros. Discovery]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.