For the first time in its history, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is set to air mixed martial arts action. Specifically, the storied broadcaster will air this weekend’s Bellator 248 on its iPlayer, a streaming service available across a wide range of devices including tablets, mobile phones, desktops, and Smart TVs.
The deal is another feather in Bellator’s cap when it comes to Europe, where the promotion has been making huge inroads in recent years. Saturday’s card was already historic, as the promotion is set to become the first to host a legal mixed martial arts event in France. Now, it will do so with an even wider audience: the iPlayer is used by 8 out of 10 U.K. viewers, per The Telegraph’s Gareth A. Davies (who also serves at times as a Bellator analyst).
While that doesn’t necessarily mean that all those potential viewers will tune in, the allure of the deal is obvious. For the BBC, one of the U.K.’s biggest stars, Michael “Venom” Page, features heavily on the card. With sports action around the globe limited due to the coronavirus pandemic, any live content is key.
For Bellator, they gain an audience of 50 million or so potential viewers on the iPlayer, who made 1.4 billion requests for content on the app in the first three months of 2020. Usage has reportedly increased even more since, due to demand during the pandemic.
Bellator 248 and Bellator Europe 10 go down Saturday, October 10 at the Accor Arena, with a limited number of fans in attendance.