×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mark Burnett, Kevin Hart, Tony Robbins Invest in MMA Startup Professional Fighters League

MMA startup Professional Fighters League has received a $28 million equity investment from a group that includes MGM Television chief Mark Burnett, actor-entrepreneur Kevin Hart, and self-help guru Tony Robbins.

The Washington, D.C.-based Professional Fighters League (PFL) is in its first year of operations. It aims to be a competitor against UFC amid the growing public interest in MMA bouts. The PFL aims to bring a March Madness-style competition structure to the MMA world. Other investors in this round of financing include tech titan Ted Leonsis and Riot Games co-founder Brandon Beck.

The PFL at present has a one-year deal with NBC Sports Network for carriage of its fights. Burnett, the renowned reality TV producers, aims to develop a range of programming around PFL, starting with a “Challengers Series” that would be an elimination-style competition among aspiring MMA pugilists for the chance to join the league. MGM is also an investor in PFL.

“This a big sports opportunity,” Burnett told Variety.

Another goal is to develop a subscription streaming service dedicated to PFL content. The investors are banking on the growth of MMA popularity in the U.S. The UFC was acquired in 2016 by Endeavor for $4.4 billion. This year, ESPN committed a whopping $1.5 billion to a five-year UFC rights deal.

“The most valuable thing in media right now is content that can drive subscription opportunities,” Burnett said.

PFL was founded by Donn Davis, Russ Ramsey, and Mark Leschly. At present the league has 72 fighters in six weight classes competing for $10 million in prize money. The PFL’s regular season concludes this month with two bouts in Atlantic City, N.J. 

“Fans have enthusiastically responded to the PFL, with over 2 million people viewing PFL4,” said Pete Murray, CEO of PFL. “Our fights are as exciting and our broadcast is as good as other MMA companies that have been around for decades, and we’re just getting started.”

Burnett has a long history of marrying boxing with TV. The prolific producer is reviving his boxing competition series “The Contender” on MGM’s Epix pay-TV channel starting Aug. 25. The series, a competition for aspiring boxers, previously aired on NBC and ESPN from 2005 to 2009.

More TV

  • A Man Walks Into the Cnn

    CNN Puts Former Sessions Aide in Newsroom Role

    Sarah Isgur Flores, a press aide to former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has been hired to help direct and plan political coverage for CNN, a move that generated some pushback on social media Tuesday. Politico previously reported the CNN hire. Flores in the past has criticized CNN coverage. A spokesperson for the AT&T-owned media [...]

  • Gerald Blum, Inspiration for 'WKRP In

    Gerald Blum, Inspiration for 'Big Guy' Carlson on 'WKRP in Cincinnati,' Dies at 86

    Gerald “Jerry” Blum, the inspiration for the character of radio station general manager Art “Big Guy” Carlson on the long-running TV sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati,” died Saturday at 86. The Atlanta radio veteran was affectionately transformed into the fictional Carlson by veteran comic actor Gordon Jump on “WKRP,” which ran for four seasons on CBS [...]

  • Arrested Development Season 5 review

    TV News Roundup: 'Arrested Development' Sets Season 5 Return Date at Netflix

    In today’s TV news roundup, the second half of “Arrested Development” season five gets a release date and Netflix announces the voice cast for “Green Eggs and Ham.” CASTING Netflix has announced the ensemble voice cast for the upcoming “Green Eggs and Ham” series executive produced by Ellen DeGeneres and based on the Dr. Seuss book. [...]

  • LA Rams running back Todd Gurley

    Live+7 Ratings for Week of Jan. 28: Super Bowl LIII Clobbers Competition

    In a shock to no one, the 2019 Super Bowl handily defeated all of its broadcast competition in the Live+7 numbers for the week of Jan. 28. Live sports typically receive virtually no lift in delayed viewing, and Super Bowl LIII was no exception. The game did, however, rise from a 31.1 rating in adults [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Faces Prison, Career Ruin if He Lied About Attack

    Jussie Smollett is facing prison time and the implosion of his career if it turns out he lied about being the target of a hate crime, legal and public relations experts say. “The best thing that Jussie can do is pray and pray a lot,” said Ronn Torossian, founder of 5W Public Relations. “If he [...]

  • BETTER THINGS "Chicago" Episode 1 (Airs

    TV Review: 'Better Things' Season 3

    A few episodes into the new season of “Better Things,” fed-up mother Sam (creator Pamela Adlon) tries a new tactic to break up one of the countless petty fights between her daughters. Instead of forcing them apart and hoping for the best, she throws up her hands and decides to just let them go at it, [...]

  • Anna Paquin, Sophie Okonedo in Flack

    TV Review: 'Flack' Starring Anna Paquin

    There’s a familiar, acrid aftertaste to “Flack,” Pop’s new drama about the controlled chaos of the publicity industry. The grim behind-the-scenes machinations of the glossy entertainment industry have always been one of TV’s favorite subjects, as are the people tasked with pulling the strings without anyone ever realizing. Over just six episodes, the show manages [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content