Bellator Debut On Spike Sees Mixed Results, Falling Well Short Of UFC Figures
The ratings news for the “heavily hyped debut” of Bellator MMA Live on Spike TV Thursday was “decidedly mixed,” according to Kevin Iole of YAHOO SPORTS. While the debut “certainly wasn't a home run for Bellator and Spike ... it was not a disaster.” The ratings were “OK and need to go up to maintain advertiser interest.” The telecast averaged 938,000 viewers, making it the “most-watched show in the promotion's four-year history, though it lost nearly half of its audience that was delivered by TNA Impact Wrestling.” The ratings for the event were “nearly triple the greatest viewership” in Bellator’s history, as the MMA outfit “drew 325,000 viewers to MTV2” for an event in May '11. By that standard, Thursday's telecast was a “grand slam home run.” However, it “failed significantly in several other categories.” The broadcast had a “strong lead-in from TNA Impact Wrestling, which averaged 1.82 million viewers, and failed to keep it.” The number of males 18-34 was “roughly the same for wrestling and Bellator.” TNA Impact Wrestling “drew 141,000 18-to-34-year-old males, while Bellator increased that slightly to 149,000.” The “biggest concern for Spike and Bellator officials has to be its performance” in that demographic. Season 13 of UFC's “The Ultimate Fighter” had its “worst-perform year” in '11, yet that show “still averaged 578,000 among men 18-34.” That figure was 388% better than Bellator's performance Thursday "among the same demographic.” The "Bellator MMA Live” telecast also declined Thursday in six of its quarter hour segments, “suggesting viewers turned away" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/19).