CBS-Invicta Deal A Win-Win

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It was already known that women’s MMA promotion Invicta FC would be back on the screens of fans of combat sports at the end of the month of June with Invicta FC 55 from Kansas City, KS and Memorial Hall. President Shannon Knapp announced the promotion’s return the Tuesday afternoon immediately following Memorial Day.

At the time, Knapp mentioned that the organization’s long hiatus dating back to last fall pertained to the status of its media rights deal. When last we saw Invicta right before Halloween, the promotion was seen on AXS TV inside the United States and streamed its cards on YouTube.

“We were fine-tuning the machine to be organized the way we wanted to move forward and that distribution deal,” Knapp said during a May 28 interview on Sirius XM’s Fight Nation. “And now we are ready to roll.” After, there was a delay in announcing the US media designation for that deal.

Invicta FC to Join CBS Sports Network Lineup on June 28

Tuesday, two weeks to the day after Knapp’s appearance on satellite radio where she mentioned the rights deal, we now know where the promotion will end up on linear television inside the United States. The June 28 Invicta FC 55 card headlined by the fight for the bantamweight championship between current titleholder Talita Bernardo (10-4 MMA, 3-0 Invicta FC) and challenger Olga Rubin (9-3 MMA, 2-1 Invicta FC) will be aired on its new TV home, CBS Sports Network.

In addition to the deal being signed, all five Invicta cards currently scheduled to take place in 2024 will be aired on Paramount Global’s sports cable channel primarily known for airing mid-major NCAA football and men’s and women’s basketball, as well as some professional sports leagues, including the Canadian Football League.

CBS Sports Network is also the United States rightsholder for select CFL games in a multi-year deal with the gridiron football league.  All other CFL games not shown by CBS Sports Network are streamed to American audiences via the league’s free streaming service CFL+, including the Grey Cup Playoffs and Grey Cup Game.

CBS Back in the Fight Game with New Deal

Invicta’s new deal marks a return of MMA to the CBS family of networks after a brief hiatus. Last fall, the Showtime premium cable network announced it would be sunsetting its Showtime Sports division, eliminating all combat sports from its programming schedule and ending its relationship with Bellator MMA.

Bellator itself ran on CBS Sports Network in the fourth quarter of 2020 after a stint on Paramount Network and DAZN ended that September. Archived Bellator shows aired on CBS Sports Network during the early months of the pandemic under the title Bellator MMA Recharged.

“CBS Sports is the perfect partner for Invicta FC,” Knapp said earlier Tuesday. “By joining forces with their global platform, we’re set to bring our world-class events to an even larger audience. 2024 will be a landmark year for us, packed with unparalleled matchups and title fights exclusive to Invicta. We are excited to showcase our world-class events and demonstrate why Invicta FC is the leading brand in women’s MMA, giving fans around the world a front-row seat to the action.”

Great Fit For Both Parties

CBS Sports is one of the top brands in sports media, a brand known for showcasing dramatic moments across the landscape in both past properties and present, ranging from the final out of the College World Series in Omaha, game-winning buckets in March Madness, the Green Jacket presentation at the Masters, to Super Bowl-winning moments. For years, CBS has been there front and center for it all.

With the addition of Invicta to the fold, this is a match made in MMA heaven. When Invicta FC was on AXS TV, it was the only sports property on what was otherwise exclusively a music channel that was also known for airing sports entertainment promotion Impact Wrestling.

Now that Invicta is on a sports network, the promotion can adequately thrive. Given that CBS Sports Network has a schedule predicated on college sports throughout the year, a tradition dating back to its years under its former name, College Sports TV, the possibilities are seemingly endless. If you’re a fan of a college sports program whose games are on CBS Sports Network and see a promo for Invicta during football and/or basketball, you might be inclined to tune in again and watch.

Final Thoughts

For years, the CBS Sports closing tagline was “When you look for champions, you look to CBS Sports.” On June 28, the same can be said for fans of Invicta FC. Here’s hoping this is the first of many years of partnership between Invicta and CBS Sports Network.

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.