Bellator gains exposure in Ireland via Virgin Media rights link-up

Mixed martial arts promotion Bellator has finalised an exclusive broadcast partnership with Virgin Media Television in Ireland.

Under the terms of the agreement, the broadcasting company will showcase all of Bellator’s live events planned for 2021, kicking off with Bellator 255 on 2 April, which will see Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire and Emmanuel Sanchez go head-to-head for the Featherweight World Title in the semi-finals of the Featherweight World Grand Prix tournament.

Providing fans of the sport in Ireland a platform to watch a new crop of up and coming homegrown talent, including Leah McCourt, Peter Queally and Kiefer Crosbie, viewers will also be able to catch all the action from the wider roster of Bellator’s international stars.

Mick McCaffrey, Head of News and Sport at Virgin Media Television, explained: “We are very excited to partner with Bellator, with MMA becoming increasingly popular in Ireland. There are some top-class Irish fighters due to feature over the coming months and we are delighted that Bellator fans will be able to watch every fight on Virgin Media Television.”

Each of Bellator’s 2021 calendar events will be aired live on either Virgin Media Two or Virgin Media Sports, whilst highlights, news and updates will be available across the Virgin Media platform, with additional bout announcements featuring Irish fighters expected to be disclosed in the coming days.

“We’re delighted to confirm Virgin Media as our broadcast partner in Ireland, a market which is incredibly important to us,’ commented Head of Bellator Europe, David Green, on the latest announcement. 

“We know how passionate the Irish fans are and we cannot wait to return there for live events. This partnership with Virgin Media ensures that viewers in Ireland won’t miss a moment of the world class action from all our events this year.”

Following on from Bellator’s ‘landmark’ announcement with public service broadcaster BBC in the UK, the MMA promotion has also struck a number of global telecasting deals with Spike in Australia and New Zealand, and has also added live streaming and on-demand service 10 Play as a new partner.

Meanwhile in Poland, the state broadcaster TVP will air all of Bellator’s 2021 events live and free-to-air, whilst the MMA promotion has renewed existing deals in the Netherlands with Spike and in Israel with Ananey Communications.

However, most recently, Bellator’s agreement with the BBC came under fire from the Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee (DCMS), which raised concerns about the health and safety of the sport and the role the BBC is taking in becoming a ‘cheerleader’ for MMA.