Top 10 of 2012: No. 4 Bellator moves to Spike TV

December 30, 2012

MMA Payout’s No. 4 business story of 2012 is Bellator’s announcement that it is moving from MTV2 to Spike TV starting in January 2013.

The move to Spike TV was the worst kept secret as Bellator prelim events have been streaming on  Also, Viacom’s investment in Bellator made it likely that it would be moved to a network with more viewers.  Spike TV, a Viacom property, seemed like the suitable candidate considering the UFC’s run on the network.  It did take advantage of its access to the UFC library to run counterprogramming of UFC fights during live events on FX or Fuel.  Recently, it had been running UFC reruns with a Bellator logo in the bottom corner.


Another unique aspect of the Spike-Bellator partnership is that it is granting King Mo Lawal the opportunity to participate in both Bellator and TNA Wrestling.

Ratings for Bellator events on MTV2 have been consistently inconsistent.  There have been wild fluctuations from week to week and it’s the hope that a move to Spike TV will bring steady ratings.

There’s great expectations for Bellator in 2013.  It is moving off of Fridays to Thursdays where TNA Wrestling will be its lead in.  Its revamping its rules to allow for potential championship rematches instead of having fighters go through a tournament.  The challenge will be to market its fighters and determining whether it should differentiate itself from the UFC.  We will see how it does with it available to more households.

7 Responses to “Top 10 of 2012: No. 4 Bellator moves to Spike TV”

  1. codemaster on December 31st, 2012 12:39 PM

    Spike now has Bellator–but they have lost their UFC library rights.

    Spike has been deliberately using UFC library footage to counter-program UFC events. Many casual fans did not realize that the UFC had left Spike.

    I am not optimistic about Bellator on Spike TV. While Spike (currently) has a wide viewership–much of Spike’s appeal was based on UFC programming–and not Manswers and 1000 Ways To Die.

    Bellator may fool the casual fan, the hardcore MMA fan knows Belletor is the minor leagues of MMA–at best. As the casual fan transforms to a hardcore fan, he will understand quickly that the UFC is the major league–and switch.

    Hardcore fans who just can’t get enough of MMA may watch Bellator–but as Fuel TV grows, with FX and Fox–there will be less appetite for second-string MMA when the best fighters are available on Fox platforms.

    The only way I see this changing is if Viacom decides to take a gamble and infuse Bellator with enough cash to lure the best up-and-coming fighters into their promotion. This will be next to impossible since the UFC currently has all the very best already under contract, and up-and-coming fighters, given the choice, would rather go with the big league UFC.

    So not only money, but a lot of patience would be needed to compete directly with the UFC. I just don’t see that happening.

  2. Sampson Simpson on December 31st, 2012 12:55 PM

    Pretty simple how Bellator gets instant traction… sign former UFC older name fighters and showcase them.

    Not very complex model that draws in viewers. While the old names draw you build new ones.that will.eventually beat these old guys for recognition. I smell Shamrock on SpikeTV in 2013-2014.

  3. codemaster on January 1st, 2013 1:30 AM

    It may be simple to you, but it does not appear simple to me.

    As I mentioned–money is the key. If Viacom/Spike can come up with the cash–they might possibly dream of being competitive in 5-10 years with the UFC, but I don’t see that happening since the UFC has such a head start–and the investment would be a very big gamble by Viacom.

    They could have had the UFC, but were unwilling to pay the price. This leads me to believe that Via/Com Spike wants MMA at a corporate discount. In other words, there is only so much in the kitty for MMA.

  4. Sampson Simpson on January 1st, 2013 4:37 PM

    It is pretty simple. They simply saw no reason to pay an entity such as UFC $100 million annually as FOX does.

    It doesn’t mean that their budget is tiny, it simply means they saw no reason to continue negotiating with a middle man when they could own the entire entity.

    They will instantly have much more viewership then FuelTV that’s for sure. At least 4X to 6X more viewership then FuelTV. What do you think that does for a brand?

  5. CodeMaster on January 2nd, 2013 4:37 PM

    We shall see how Bellator does on Spike–but I strongly doubt it will be competitive with the UFC. You speak only of Fuel TV, however, FX and Fox both contribute to the UFC brand. The combined Fox networks vs. Spike-Bellator is a mismatch.

  6. Sampson Simpson on January 2nd, 2013 5:45 PM

    Viacom owns Spike and will be able to play their content over and over and over and over.

    This happens for the UFC only on FuelTV which gets no viewership or distribution.

    Pretty simple to understand.

    FOX is 4 times a year which has little to no impact. FX ratings have been very shitty for TUF and flat for the rest of whatever they show.

  7. Hito on January 15th, 2013 1:55 PM

    Bellator is going to come up pretty strong wtih the new Bellator Reality show similar to the Ultimate Fighter Tuff series and great some great characters, but they still can’t afford to pay there fighters enough money as the UFC does because of the Pay per view payouts. I heard Bellator is locking everybody in 2 year contracts now with a clause that gives them the right to match the UFC offers for fighters after there contract. Look for example at Eddie Alvarez. Eddie is locked in a legal battle because of that contract and he wants to fight for the UFC. Bellator matched his offer, and he still wants to fight for the UFC because the UFC gives extra Bonuses. Hands down the UFC has more money and has been longer in the game. Bellator will never compete on a talent level with the UFC. They can’t afford the best fighters. They got rookies in there tournaments that cant make it into the UFC. Only 1 or 2 names pop out of Bellator to head to UFC, but they can’t hang. Hector Lumbard and Jay Heiron for example. Bellator is a 2nd rate company and cut corners at all expenses. Elite fighters should go to the UFC.

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