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Exclusive: ProElite CEO Doug DeLuca comments on TV deal with CBS

Thursday’s announcement by ProElite that it had reached an agreement with CBS to televise four EliteXC events garnered a great deal of coverage in the mainstream press. And while we know a little more than we did when the initial report of the deal surfaced Wednesday, there still has not been a lot reported in regard to details pertaining to the deal.

On that note, I was able to speak with ProElite CEO Doug DeLuca, one of the main architects behind the deal, in an exclusive interview for (

Sam Caplan: How long has this deal been in the works?

Doug DeLuca: I would say it was in the works for a couple of months, somewhere in that neighborhood. We’ve been talking on and off for awhile. You have to remember that CBS was the second group to invest in ProElite, almost a year and a half ago. They believed in us as they believed in MMA all the way back then. They made the investment in us and they decided to put us on their SHOWTIME networks. I think they were very smart and I think that both SHOWTIME and CBS were both very visionary in the sense they were interested in the sport, they were bullish on the sport, and they wanted to see how it would go. They liked what we had to say but we were unproven at the time but they believed enough to stick their toe in the water and invest in the company and puts us on SHOWTIME. We all know that has been a big success, and now this. I think they were very smart and calculated in their approach to it and it has worked out well.

Sam Caplan: You mentioned that these negotiations had gone on for several months. Was there a specific turning point in the negotiations that possibly made CBS even more interested in doing a deal?

Doug DeLuca: There’s all kind of speculation. I would say the writers strike had a good hand in accelerating their idea to put it on the air. I think they see mixed martial arts and they get mixed martial arts. They’re bullish on it. I think the opportunity arose to do the deal with us. They were talking to other people and were looking around and from what I understand were in talks with our competitor and that obviously didn’t work out.

Sam Caplan: I know you can’t divulge too many details because ProElite is a publicly traded company, but there are some conflicting reports I wanted to ask you about. reported that it is rumored the deal with CBS will be a time buy while Dave Meltzer reported on Yahoo! that there will be a rights fee involved. Is EliteXC getting a rights fee for the CBS telecasts?

Doug DeLuca: The latter was incorrect. This is a license-fee deal. We’re getting a license-fee in order to put the show on the air. It’s a typical TV license-fee deal.

Sam Caplan: Who controls the selling of the advertising and sponsorships?

Doug DeLuca: CBS ad sales will be controlling that for the most part. There is some carve out in there where we will control some of the sponsorships, but for the most part, CBS ad sales.

Sam Caplan: In December, MediaPost reported that CBS and the UFC were close to a deal. You’ve had an insider’s perspective on these negotiations, do you feel those reports were accurate?

Doug DeLuca: Close is relative and I wasn’t involved in the discussions so it’s hard for me to say, but I believe they could be accurate, yes.

Sam Caplan: Some critics — and I’ve been one of them — have raised issues with EliteXC’s use of a DJ, dancers, and some other aspects if the shows. Has CBS asked EliteXC to make any modifications to the product they will be presenting on network TV?


  • Brandon Sanchez says:

    Excellent interview. He gave a lot of good information.

  • dice says:

    Swift > Meltzer. Dave has been a great source for MMA news for years, but he has slacked a little lately. His defense of Ioles numbers regarding Coutures contract was absurd and didn’t make any sense. I also have noticed that he seems to be a bit of a revisionist when it comes to mma history.

    Swift has been on a roll lately and his blog is one of the first I check.

  • Gygax says:

    Good job tracking him down Sam!

    So we’ll still have the dancers and DJs and music acts. That sucks. He may say 5% don’t like it, but I think he’s wrong. And 98% of NFL football games do NOT have halftime entertainment. Only the Conference Finals, Super Bowl, and occasional MNF game do. So thats a horrible analogy by him.

    This is still a huge deal for EliteXC, but as some expected, this is not as lucrative as first thought. They will have to get the ratings to continue the relationship. Let’s hope it happens.

  • JacRabbit says:

    I agree… there’s no DJ’s, dancers, and performers in pro boxing…

  • smoogleton says:

    Wow the CEO of Pro Elite!! How did you snag an exclusive like that???

  • Captain says:

    Hmmm… exclusive interview with CEO of ProElite by Kind of like Thomas Gerbasi interviewing Dana White.

    It’s kind of sad he thinks the shit with the DJs and dancers and promoting street fighters is going to fly on network TV. Not only that but it doesn’t even seem like he’s honestly considered whether it will be good for the image of the sport in the long run. More about can they sell it and make a profit now.

    On the CBS/UFC deal, I don’t even know how CBS could have seriously entertained a deal with its indirect subsidiary’s (ProElite) main competitors that could have been detrimental to such subsidiary and consequently itself and its shareholders.

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    The stuff about DJ’s and dancers is inconsequential, and most viewers won’t pay too much attention. After all, NFL and NBA teams have chearleaders, but most fans don’t pay too much attention to them, and they fade into the background.

    This will put pressure on other networks to present MMA programming. The more competition and exposure the better.

  • Dale Hartt says:

    Good call on the dancers and such, they stink

  • Jason Menz says:

    I had the opportunity to work with Doug DeLuca on a professional level for a years time in 1995 while he was functioning and contributing as an Associate Producer for Hearst/Jaffe. I myself, functioned in a below the line capacity in terms of the type of work we were doing in television. In my experience seeing his work first hand, it would be wise to follow this mans lead (only if your interest is to make a profit). He has demonstrated his ability to take something good and turn it into something great. I’m sure that if he feels that the entertainment segment of the piece that would include musical acts, dancers, etc., has been well planned out with the board and management of ProElite as well as CBS. Keep in mind that it is this kind of vision, to do something new that has not been done, is what starts the beginning or the shaping, if you will, of the organization and growth of this sport and the vision behind it. Didn’t we all think Bill Gates was crazy when he stated that most or all homes would have a personal computer in their homes in the future? Food for thought. If there are still any doubts about Doug, then look at his track record. Those actions speak louder than my voice in this forum. Jason Menz. ([email protected])


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