14 for 14: No. 3 (tie) Bellator 131 scores ratings, Bellator hits PPV

December 31, 2014

A pair of Bellator events make it to the top 3.  First, Bellator 131 has its best ratings.

Bellator 131 on SpikeTV

November 15, 2014 was the biggest event in Bellator history to date.  As we know, Bellator 131 took place in San Diego, California with Tito Ortiz taking on Stephan Bonnar in the main event.  The main card took place on Spike TV and scored the largest rating ever for the organization.

Ortiz-Bonnar drew an average of 1.8 million viewers on SpikeTV with a peak of over 2 million which made it the most-watched and highest-rated MMA fight on cable in 2014.  The overall telecast of 3 hours and 16 minutes drew a rating of 1.24 million viewers.  Each of the fights on the Spike TV card drew over 1 million viewers and it was the clear winner of the night compared to the UFC 180 Prelims and WSOF card which portions of those shows aired at the same time as Bellator 131.

The great ratings for the event were based on strong promotion of the card which included shoulder programming on SpikeTV and, of course, Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar.  While their “bad blood” stemmed from a pro-wrestling-like skit, the build was promoted well by Bellator.  Although the actual fight was not a classic, Bellator got what it wanted, an audience willing to tune in.

Payout Perspective:

Bellator 131 was a reflection of the Scott Coker-era and his new strategy.  Based on the ratings, it seemed to work.  On a night opposite a UFC PPV, Bellator seemingly won the night.  We will see if its strategy of placing quarterly tent pole events will continue to work.

Bellator finally on PPV

In May, Bellator decided to test the waters of PPV.  After its initial plans were set aside due to an injury by headliner Tito Ortiz, it went ahead with another try in May.

Unfortunately, its co-main event fell through as Eddie Alvarez had to pull out due to an injury.  In his place to face Michael Chandler was Will Brooks.  With a Rampage Jackson-Mo Lawal headliner the question was whether the card was strong enough to remain on PPV.

The PPV’s price point was between $35 and $45 which some believed was overpriced for the talent the event was offering.

It turns out, the PPV was a small success as multiple reports had the PPV at 100,000 buys.  The number was confirmed by Spike TV’s president Kevin Kay.

Payout Perspective:

Although the PPV was a success, it appears that Bellator will step back from any further attempts at PPV for now.  If the 100K PPV buy rate is correct, it’s a testament to the promotion and shoulder programming by Spike which supported the event.  It also played up the rivalry between Jackson and Lawal.  Once again, known talent (Jackson) and a hot rivalry helped bring in the PPV buys.  We’ll see if Coker’s strategy will include another Bellator PPV down the line.

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