The World Series of Fighting on Wednesday will name 50-year-old digital media executive Carlos Silva as its new chief executive officer.
Silva has an extensive background in digital media and sports television and said he hopes to use all available platforms to make the World Series a bigger player in the MMA space.
It already has a television deal with NBC and NBC Sports Network, but is generally regarded as the No. 3 promotion in the U.S. behind the UFC and Bellator.
Silva isn’t necessarily looking to take down either of the two MMA giants, though matchmaker Ali Abdel-Aziz insists he’s going to seek out the best talent on the market. Abdel-Aziz told Yahoo Sports he plans to make a competitive offer to free agent heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, who recently announced his intention to come out of retirement.
Silva’s goal is to overhaul the World Series’ website that will not only have comprehensive information about it, its fighters and events, but also about all of MMA.
Live sports events are the lifeblood of TV networks, Silva said, and the WSOF wants to support that with a rich website that will become a destination for fans.
“Our goal is to become a bigger player, but we’re competing with ourselves right now,” Silva told Yahoo Sports Tuesday. “The UFC and Bellator are great properties. I see no reason why we shouldn’t be looking at all of MMA and the fight space in general on all of our digital platforms. I think you’ll see us talking fighting and MMA and as a result of that, growing an audience that will then promote the World Series of Fighting.
“I have no qualms about talking about [UFC star] Conor McGregor or a great Bellator fighter [on our site]. If you’re an MMA fan, you want to come to a site where you can get all of that information, and I think you’ll see that’s what we do on the digital side.”
Silva was most recently at the Back9Network, which is a golf lifestyle channel. He previous was president and COO of the Universal Sports Network and ran AOL Sports, AOL News and AOL Money.
He said despite the complaints of some fans, there is not a problem with too much MMA in the marketplace. He said the television networks are desperate for the live content and that supporting it digitally dovetails with the way fans consume sports now.
“I don’t know that I look at this so much as mixed martial arts as I do simply live sports,” Silva said. “Having been in and around the beginning of the change to the DVR revolution that sort of happened in 2001, 2002, maybe 2003 when TiVO emerged, I still think live is still critical to the networks. It’s even more critical for the sports networks. I don’t think we’re in an oversaturation point for MMA, or for live [sports]. I think we’re an important property for NBC and the NBC Sports Network.
“I see this as an opportunity to grow a live league. If you look at what has happened with live sports and live entertainment, even with the Grammys and the Oscars, it’s important to own a live situation. It’s a difficult world we live in because if you want to watch an event live, you can’t insulate yourself from the Tweets and the Facebook posts and the Instagram posts. You have to tune in and watch and join the conversation. And so we want to create that digital platform that can help us grow this and create real value.”