Buckle up folks: Bellator MMA and NASCAR’s Monster Energy Drink Cup Series have reached a deal to create a partnership.
Bellator MMA will be making appearances at four NASCAR events this season as part of a cross-promotional campaign that seeks to introduce NASCAR fans to the Bellator brand. Monster has done similar cross-promotion with the Motocross Series it also sponsors.
“I’m excited to announce Bellator’s partnership with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series,” Bellator President Scott Coker said to mmajunkie.com. “Bellator and NASCAR fans are some of the most passionate in sports, and we couldn’t be happier to bring MMA and motorsports together. Monster Energy has been a great partner of ours over the years, and we’re excited about the opportunity to integrate our brand into another great sports property within the Monster Energy family … I’m looking forward to introducing Bellator to a whole new fanbase.”
As part of the partnership, Bellator will present three or four fights as part of the pre-race activities at four different locations.
The expected schedule is:
- Charlotte Motor Speedway – Sat., May 20
- Bristol Motor Speedway – Sat., Aug. 19
- Talladega Superspeedway – Sun., Oct. 15
- Homestead-Miami Speedway – Sun., Nov. 19
The events will not be televised, giving added incentive for fans to buy tickets to these events. It’s yet to be seen whether tickets will be sold separately or as part of a package. (One question to be answered is will fans who previously bought tickets be able to view the fights?)
FOX Sports and NBC Sports currently own the broadcasting rights for NASCAR until 2024, so it’s little surprise that Bellator, a Spike TV property, would not be televised, as Spike is owned by Viacom.
So the question is ultimately: why?
Monster certainly knows what works for its brand in terms of demographics; they sponsor or have sponsored in the past many extreme sports, such as NHRA Drag Racing, Rallycross, Motocross and the X Games and have endorsement deals with many extreme sporting athletes. A reasonable guess can be made that the creation of unique sporting events like these can be seen as added value for the NASCAR fan and make them more likely to consider Bellator, over other alternatives such as UFC.
It’s also reasonable to assume that this is a shot in the arm to two struggling franchises.
NASCAR is experiencing some of its worst ratings in over 20 seasons for a variety of reasons and attendance has tricked to dangerously low levels along with it. The attendance problem is so bad, NASCAR has not issued attendance estimates since 2012. This could be one way to get butts in seats and perhaps catch some MMA fans and turn them into casual NASCAR fans.
Bellator is also attempting to stay relevant. The company was a start-up that tried to catch on to the exposure of UFC in 2008, offering an alternative line-up and even signing former UFC fighters. This introduces their product to NASCAR fans that may not know about Bellator or MMA and convince them to check it out.
The anticipated schedule just happens to line up with four of NASCAR’s biggest events of the season after the Daytona 500, including the All-Star Race, a prime-time night race at Bristol (nicknamed the Last Great Colosseum), the fall playoff race at Talladega and the championship race at Homestead Miami.
We’ll see how it works out for both franchises, which need a shot in the arm, but I can’t think of any other examples of cross-promotion like this in any sport.