Mixed Martial Arts Coming to Network TV

CBS takes plunge, with first two-hour special slated for April 26
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Feb 28, 2008 7:33 PM CST
Mixed martial arts fighters Wanderlei Silva, right, of Brazil, and Chuck Liddell face off during an official weigh-in ceremony at the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Friday, Dec. 28, 2007,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – CBS is juicing up its Saturday night prime-time programming with mixed martial arts, Variety reports. ProElite, a company that has worked with CBS cable sister Showtime, will produce the show, with a first airing aimed for April 26. With the coveted 18-to-34-year-old male demographic in its crosshairs, CBS plans to run four yearly MMA specials.

"This is a sport on the rise," one CBS exec said. "It's a lot more upscale than people realize."  Some worry the show will be too violent, but advocates argue that MMA are no rougher than football, Variety reports. Plus, "people who tune in know what they're getting," said the exec, who calls the deal "a perfect marriage."