It looks as though the opening night for Bellator’s “Summer Series”, as well as its reality show “Fight Master: Bellator MMA”, drew ratings that most observers would consider to be disappointing. According to a report from MMA Weekly, the Bellator 96 card drew 486,000 viewers and the premiere of Fight Master averaged 432, 000 viewers. The story cites SPIKE officials as the source for the numbers.
While those figures still crush the amount of viewers Bellator was drawing before it moved to SPIKE, they are considerably less than what the promotion pulled during Season 8 this past spring. Bellator 95 on April 4th drew over 900,000 viewers and Season 8 as a whole, averaged just under 800,000.
Considering that last night’s Bellator 96 featured “King Mo” Lawal in action, who Bellator and parent company Viacom have been promoting hard, the ratings are somewhat of a surprise. Likewise for Fight Master, which of course has UFC legend Randy Couture on board as a coach. That said, the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins were competition for SPIKE Wednesday night, prompting the network’s Senior Vice President of Communications David Schwarz to tell MMA Weekly.com:
“A good chunk of those viewers, when asking where did (Bellator’s viewers) go, went to the NHL. Our research has shown that there is a lot of crossover between MMA fans and hockey fans.”
“We’re still optimistic that we’ll see a jump up in ratings.”
The hockey game also went into overtime which probably didn’t help matters (and the Hawks ties the series 2-2 if you care). Summer time can also be tough in terms of drawing ratings, but still, there’s no doubt that the alarm bells will start to sound at Viacom if the numbers don’t go up in the coming weeks. It will be interesting to see how Bellator 97 draws on June 31st, which will feature lightweight champ Michael Chandler taking on David Rickels.
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Front-Page Photo Credit: photo via Bellator MMA