Bellator 66: 103,000 viewers

April 24, 2012

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator 66 ratings received an average of 106,000 viewers last Friday.  The ratings are disappointing considering it was headlined by Eddie Alvarez versus Shinya Aoki.

The 106,000 viewers is a sharp decrease from last week’s 163,000 viewer average.  It is also the third worst average in Bellator/MTV2 history.  MMA Junkie suggested that its site as well as others aired the prelims and main event fights online which could have detracted from the television average.

Bellator 65: 163,000 viewers
Bellator 64: 175,00 viewers
Bellator 63:  140,000 viewers
Bellator 62:  175,000 viewers
Bellator 61:  108,000 viewers
Bellator 60:  169,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

The roller coaster continues with the Bellator ratings.  Even with it being a UFC PPV weekend, Bellator had a solid main event that was not worthy of a 103,000 viewer average.  With Hector Lombard leaving for the UFC, Bellator is down one of its top stars.  Bellator will need to ensure that it keeps and cultivates its top fighters so that the company can have a face.

18 Responses to “Bellator 66: 103,000 viewers”

  1. BrainSmasher on April 24th, 2012 8:41 PM

    I said this before. It will be very hard for BFC to keep talent. The UFC tv deal pays much better than Spike is paying BFC. The UFC PPV model pays MUCH more than BFC can dream of getting. The UFC will push up the fighter costs of all their fighters when it is all said and done and when push comes to shove the UFC will be able to take anyone they want. This is why Bellator is doing everything in its power to promote their tounrament formatt and dont put any promotion behind the fighters or their belts. Their match ups leave a lot to be desired. They are very inactive. But they hope they can grow by putting 8 man tourny on every event poster. That is something the UFC cant take from them. But it wont work. The only thing that draws is the UFC brand and star fighters. If you cant mae them you are in trouble. I wonder why Hector wasnt bound to BFC? He was champ he should have had the typical UFC champ clause that extends his contract like all the other promotions have adopted. Has Belltor not realized that clause is the only way they can keep atleast their champs from leaving?

  2. Ed Stock on April 24th, 2012 11:00 PM

    Does anyone have any idea how much traffic they’re getting on during the MTV2 broadcasts? I’m wondering how many people leave Bellator up on their computers and turn the TV to some other show at the same time. Not that it really matters, I guess.

    I’ve enjoyed Bellator for a while and would have loved to see them succeed in the niche they’ve created for themselves, but with TV ratings tanking, their best-known, highest-ranked fighters getting bought up, no pulse in the LHW or HW divisions, big gaps in time between “seasons,” very little continuity among the guys who lose in the semi-finals and finals of the tournaments in terms of seeing them in non-tournament matchups….

    Lombard goes to Zuffa and immediately you read people’s opinions on the various matchups they’d like to see him put in. If he stayed in Bellator, the only foreseeable matchups would have been against the eventual winner of the current MW tournament and Shlemenko, who’s sidelined indefinitely. If Alvarez stays, he’s pretty much indicated he refuses to go back through a tournament and wants lots of money to fight who knows what non-Bellator fighters. Their other champs – even Cole Konrad – probably look at Lombard and Alvarez and hope their numbers will come up in the UFC lottery as well.

    Not good. I’ll be surprised if Viacom pumps money into this beyond 2012. I won’t be surprised if they hand it all back to Bjorn and wish him good luck.

  3. Diego on April 25th, 2012 5:08 AM

    A 50k shift in viewership from week to week is hardly a roller coaster ride. It’s a blip that most networks wouldn’t even notice. It matters to Bellator because their numbers are so low. I care less about the week to week fluctuation and more about the fact that they are not showing an increase in their seasonal averages.

    Losing Hector Lombard won’t help. They’ll lose Dantas as well when his contract is up. But Dana will probably let them keep Askren.

  4. Diego on April 25th, 2012 5:10 AM

    I have been following the Bellator season and it has been great. It will be a shame if the promotion folds. 2013 will be the do or die year for them. If they can’t bring good numbers to Spike, they’re done.

  5. Machiel Van on April 25th, 2012 7:52 AM

    I wonder if this will effect Eddie’s chances of Bjorn “showing him the money.”

  6. Jose Mendoza on April 25th, 2012 10:04 AM

    The great thing about Bellator and their business model is that they don’t have to try and keep talent that UFC want’s to bid for. The whole point of tournaments is to create stars and Bellator has the guy that just crushed Alvarez. Other promotions like Strikeforce and Affliction have tried to outbid to retain stars, but the key here is to create new ones through the tournaments and spend your money wisely. I love Alvarez and Lombard, but they are not going to be bringing in the viewers or become PPV stars for Bellator ever, really. This is smart by Bellator.

  7. Funny on April 25th, 2012 10:35 AM

    It proves that Alvarez has had zero drawing power all along

    They should have never overpaid for Alvarez the way they did

  8. JamesG on April 25th, 2012 12:00 PM

    Diego – Very true. It’s probably not even a statistically significant change in a nationwide sample. More likely they have an audience somewhere in the middle of the data points, and whether the rating comes out in the high or low part of the range in a given week is mostly random.

    I suppose though that it does show Alvarez didn’t move the needle enough for rating to break out of their normal range for the season. Alvarez/Aoki is the most relevant fight as far as rankings that Bellator could make other than the FW division and it didn’t seem to matter.

    I’m not sure that Bellator is actually making stars. The good thing they’ve done is differentiate themselves by making the format the star, but the downside is that they have trouble elevating any given fight in significance. Is Chandler a star because he beat Alvarez? A good number of people saw the fight on TV or Youtube, but if Alvarez wasn’t a star for them with his title reign, win streak, and prior track record wasn’t making a difference for them, I really doubt Chandler will.

    I think both Lombard and Alvarez can be successfully marketed in the UFC though as longtime champs of a smaller org with great win streaks. The UFC model just works better for that purpose.

  9. BrainSmasher on April 25th, 2012 2:05 PM

    I agree James. BFC is really in a tough position. Their formatdoesnt have much growth potential. Going the tradition route will be hard because they can build stars but stuggle to keep them. But imo i think the best route would be traditional. Spike will put a lot of money into them imo because they have so much to gain if they can create a promotion anywhere close to the UFC. I think Spike wants BFC to be PPV worthy at some point. So they can act as a HBO type. Make money off a live PPV then show in on Spike a week later. But with a champions clause they will be able to atleast and those guys could be draws with Spike platform. They could become a solid #2 promotion that does good business with Spike. But they have to promote their fighters. Keep the good ones out of the tournaments, get a match maker who knows what he is doing, and be content with being a solid #2. If you lose a guy to the UFC big deal another fighter will emerge and take his place. Dont increase your costs astronimically bidding against Zuffa. They have a chance to have low costs, good fighters, and a good platform in Spike that the UFC rode to a very high level. Be content and wait for your opportunity. Just imagine what Affliction could have done with the tv deals out on the market if they would have just survived a little longer.

  10. JamesG on April 25th, 2012 2:29 PM

    When you’re getting that little viewership on free TV for your topline fights, it’s going to be hard to justify PPV. TNA wrestling gets well over 1 million viewers every week on Spike. What do they do on PPV, about 10K buys? When you’re distant #2, your content is not considered premium by many people.

  11. Sampson Simpson on April 25th, 2012 3:07 PM

    Aren’t you guys aware that Viacom owns a majority stake in Bellator?

    The promotion is poised for big things in 2013.

  12. JamesG on April 25th, 2012 3:54 PM

    We realize that. It doesn’t mean they can magically monetize the product at a level that will be any threat to the UFC.

    If Viacom was going to throw limitless cash at Bellator, at a minimum they would have kept Lombard and moved the shows to a night where they can maximize viewership. Instead they let one of their two biggest names go for 75/75 and are holding on to that weekend site fee revenue. As a publicly held company, they expect a return on their money.

  13. Ed Stock on April 25th, 2012 5:06 PM

    Everyone has seen those photos of Dana White with his little tomb stone with the names of organizations Zuffa bought out or crushed. What you’re seeing now is the way he can do the same to Bellator without spending a fraction of what he paid for any other promotion: Just pick off a few of their premier fighters as their contracts expire, offer them PPV cuts that Bellator can’t match, and force Bellator to keep developing new talent that will never be household names among casual fans.

    White doesn’t have to worry about whether Viacom would be willing to sell out the whole promotion, because after a handful of top talent Bellator really has nothing to sell.

  14. BrainSmasher on April 25th, 2012 10:30 PM

    James G

    Now BFC couldnt do PPV. But if they get 1 million viewers on Spike like even reruns of UFC came close to and most Spike programs come close to. Then it would be a very good starting point. I disagree about the Lumbard thing. I dont think you spend mney on him when you stil have a while before you can even get a return on Spike. If you are Spike, if i was Spike tv. I wouldnt bid for Hector who has no fan base. IF you are going to dump someone money on a fighter you wait until the UFC has a free agent come up for bid. Then you get someone who has a fan base and has fought infront of millions of people. This is how you get PPV buying fans and ratings. Not paying a lot for a guy who fought on you 100K viewer shows on MTV2.

    Keep in mind Affliction did 100K buys with no tv deal. IF BFC can get some names and coupled with 750,000-1 million ratings weekly. They very well could cultivate a PPV business. It will never rival the UFC. Nothing can compete with that brand name. Not even the fighters themselves outside a Brock Lesnar maybe. But i am willing to bet that Spike would take 20-50K+ PPV buys and 500K ratings on the event when it plays a week later on tv. They dont need 300K buys. Just like HBO the ratings for matches showed after it was on PPV are still very good.

  15. Sampson Simpson on April 26th, 2012 2:09 PM

    I agree with BS for once.

    No need to chase a guy like Lombard at all when you can create an even bigger figure once you’re able to showcase the product on Spike.

    Bellator/Viacom is playing it real cool right now.

    You guys don’t understand that just like the UFC is a marketing machine, Viacom is in a perfect position to create stars just like UFC has. Just lock them down with a nice contract early and keep it going from there.

  16. JamesG on April 26th, 2012 2:09 PM

    Bellator will be on Spike in 8 months. They could have given Lombard on BFC fight this spring or summer, let him fight once back in Australia, and then put him on Spike in early 2013. They would only have been out the cost of one match on MTV2 and then would have had him for the next few years of the Spike era. Seems like penny pinching.

    Affliction did 100K buys because they scooped up a bunch of fighters with huge name value for hardcore fans. TV exposure doesn’t necessarily lead to buys, the perception of premium value leads to buys. The UFC already had marquee PPV names before the Spike deal. The exposure from the TV deal was additive, they didn’t just one day say: Hey, the fights you’ve been getting for free now will cost you $30.

    Much of what appeal Bellator currently has comes from the fact that their big fights are all on free TV. How much of that appeal will remain if they move tourney finals and title matches to PPV? I think it would be very difficult for Bellator to make this shift. If an MMA fan has $50 to drop on a PPV, the vast majority are going to turn to the premium brand.

  17. BrainSmasher on April 26th, 2012 2:43 PM

    You do have some true points. But fans will pay to their their fighters if you build them properly. If they can build the stars. Noone wants to pay for PPV but they do to see the fighters they like. Lots of people become fans of Forrest Griffen on free tv and ended up paying to follow him the rest of his career. BFC needs to make people believe their fighters are top level and make people care about thise fighters. Not that hard to do imo.

    I agree BFC could have used Hector. I just dont see a reason for them to do so. How much did the UFC pay him? We dont know. What we also dont know is how much more BFC would have had to pay above the UFC to make up for the lost sponsorship money he would get fighting in front of millions rather than 100K people. In the end it would have cost BFC and ton of money for a guy who has zero fans. A UFC cast off like Jardine can bring more fans why spend your money on someone who has nothing to offer? Look at the names that hit the market what have fought in front of large crouds. Migel Torres was briefly on the market. King Mo is out there. There are always guys getting cut or released who have big names and a following. I also dont expect StrikeForce to be renewed. Dana and Showtime have butted heads ever since working together and i dont think either side thinks it is worth it. Many of those fighters will be FA’s. It just isnt money well spent.

    As for Affliction you are right they got names. The same thing BFC could do if they spent their money wisely and waited for the opportunity. You mentioned TNA. They dont get many PPV buys but they keep putting them on because they still make profit doing them. The same could be the case for BFC.

  18. Sampson Simpson on April 26th, 2012 3:30 PM

    It might be penny pinching in your eyes but it’s smart business in my eyes.

    No need to chase a fighter when you have the platform to create stars out of thin air.

    Chasing a fighter would send a bad message to those currently in Bellator. Has PPV even been discussed much for BFC?

    I’d imagine they’d want to focus on building up their viewership on Spike in order to draw ratings and sell more advertisements. Wouldn’t be a wise move to even think about the PPV market for the next couple years.

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