For the past year, residents of the Los Angeles and surrounding areas have been treated to Mixed Martial Arts action as a part of their regular Saturday evening programming.
For the past year, residents of the Los Angeles and surrounding areas have been treated to Mixed Martial Arts action as a part of their regular Saturday evening programming. In April of 2004, Ed Soares and Jorge Guimaraes introduced Passing the Guard to new audiences in the United States. Originally broadcast in Brazil, Passing the Guard brings to local television what most fans of MMA only get to read about on websites and magazines. Passing the Guard is the first television show in the United States dedicated to covering the sport of MMA and getting the behind the scenes to areas rarely seen by fans.
With its viewer ship reaching exponential growth and its new season being newly broadcast in Hawaii, Passing the Guard is quickly establishing itself as a respected news source. We caught up with Ed Soares the producer of Passing the Guard to get the details on his television show.
How did Passing the Guard gets started in the U.S.?
I went over to Japan with Chuck Liddell when he fought Quinton Jackson in the 2003 Pride Grand Prix. While I was there, I ran into Jorge Guimaraes, who I`ve known for a long time. While I was there Jorge told me about this MMA show that he was producing, and he invited me to film while he conducted interviews. At the time the show was only being broadcast in Brazil. I asked him who was doing the interviews in the U.S. and he told me that he was not able to do interviews in the U.S. due to his budget. I thought that this was an incredible opportunity to bring this unique show, which was a first of its kind to a U.S. audience. A couple of months later, Jorge and I began filming the first of the episodes that would premiere here in the U.S. Passing the Guard made its official debut in the U.S. KDOC-TV in April of 2004.
How long has the show been running?
Passing the Guard is currently entering its 5th season and has been airing in the U.S. for just over a year now. What makes Passing the Guard unique is that we run 4 seasons of the program per year. Unlike most television shows that make 13 episodes for the entire year, we make 13 episodes per season. With the sport of Mixed Martial Arts growing larger everyday, there are many new events and great up and coming fighters that we want to cover and bring to the masses. MMA is really exploding right now and the sport is very active, it would be next to impossible to cover everything going on in one season. In total we produce 52 shows a year, so we basically have a show for every week of the year.
How large is your current viewing audience?
At the close of the last season we were being viewed by 80,000 - 100,000 homes. When we first started airing, we were being viewed by 20,000 - 30,000, so over the course of a year we have made a significant increase in the amount of people that are tuning in to see the program. What really got me excited during the last couple of seasons was that we were generating a larger viewing audience and beating shows like "The West Wing" and "The Practice" in same Saturday evening time slot. With each new season our audience continues to grow and we will be looking to take the show on a national scale and make Passing the Guard available to an even bigger viewing audience.
Tell me what someone can expect from an episode of Passing the Guard?
They are going to see highlights of the best events all over the world. On top of the highlights they are going to see exclusive back stage footage. They will get an inside look at fighters training and preparing days before their matches. We give fans the opportunity to see things that happen behind the scenes before and after events. MMA fans will be treated to footage that is not normally available to anyone.
What is some of the exclusive coverage available on Passing the Guard?
We`ve had the opportunity to spend a few days at the Chute Boxe filming closed doors training sessions with Rudimar Fredrigo and the fighters. There is an inside look at the Brazilian Top Team Academy and of course there are never before seen interviews with the athletes that compose these elite teams. We bring the fans areas of Mixed Martial Arts that are rarely seen. My partner Jorge is considered to be one of the leading ambassadors of mixed martial arts. Jorge has been doing this in Brazil for the past six years and he has established a phenomenal reputation himself. He is able to get coverage in areas that are accessed by very few people. There are no other journalist able to obtain some of the behind the scenes footage he has captured. Not even members of the Japanese media are allowed into the training areas during the Pride Fighting Championships, but he has been successful in getting this exceptional footage.
What are some of the events that are covered?
Some of the events we are currently covering include: Pride FC, Bushido, UFC, WEC, Rumble on the Rock, MECA, Storm Samurai, and Cage Rage. In the next season we will be covering more events and will look to add to the list of great shows we already cover.
With MMA being legalized in the state of California it`s only a matter of time before new shows start making their debut and we want to be there as these new shows showcase their talent.
What direction would you like to take Passing the Guard in the next few years?
There are a few things we would like to incorporate into the show in the near future. Ideally, I would like to increase the length of the show to an hour. I would like the show to include different segments and really get more in-depth with the fighters and their daily routines. Our goal is for Passing the Guard to become the Sports center of MMA. We want the fans to look at Passing the Guard as the premiere source for televised news in the world of mixed martial arts.
Who currently sponsors the show?
We have a variety of sponsors from fight wear companies to brands of alcohol. In the beginning companies like Tapout, Sinister Brand, and World Size Nutrition Supplements that stepped up. I really want to thank them because; they stuck with us from the start and gave us a big hand in supporting the show and helping it to become a success. Now we have some larger companies looking to support the show as well, which will help us to take the show to the next level.
Where is Passing the Guard currently airing?
In southern California, KDOC-TV it covers all of Los Angeles, Orange County, and parts of Ventura, San Bernardino, and Riverside County. Starting April 6, the show will be premiering on the K5 Network in Hawaii, which is UPN in Hawaii. Our focus is to open up as many new markets and bring the show to a broader audience across the United States. Our goal is to eventually broadcast Passing the Guard on a national network and have the show available to the masses. You can see Passing the Guard on KDOC-TV at midnight ever Saturday and in Hawaii on K5 Network (UPN) at 10:30 every Wednesday.