Bellator 135 DVR bumps rating up to 670K viewers

April 1, 2015

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that the Bellator 135 adjusted viewership drew an additional 70,000 viewers for a total of 677,000 viewers.

In addition, the peak for the show went up from the original 922,000 viewers to 984,000.

Bellator 2015 through 135 DVR

Payout Perspective:

The adjusted viewership average is approximately 740,000. The gains from the DVR viewership are on par with its regular gains.

Bellator 135: 607,000 viewers

March 30, 2015

Bellator 135 drew an average viewership of 607,000 viewers on Friday night according to Nielsen sources.  It was the lowest output for a Bellator event this year.

In the main event, Marcos Galvao won the Bellator bantamweight title making Joe Warren submit to a knee bar.  There was also an exciting undercard fight with Hideo Tokoro taking on LC Davis.

Below is a chart of the 2015 Bellator events:

Bellator 2015 through 135

The NCAA Tournament on TBS topped cable ratings on Friday night with Michigan State/Oklahoma winning the night with over 4.4 million viewers and a rating of 1.5 in the A18-49 category.  Bellator 135 drew 0.2 in the A18-49 category.

Payout Perspective:

The current average overnight viewership for Bellator in 2015 is a little over 702,000.  It’s clear that the NCAA Tournament played a part in the low ratings.  We shall see how it does in a couple weeks with Will Brooks on top of the card taking on Dave Jansen.

Two Bellator fighters fail Bellator 133 drug tests

March 17, 2015

MMA Junkie reports that Alexander Shlemenko failed his Bellator 133 drug test.  In addition, The MMA Report reports that that Bellator 133 prelim fighter Emelio Chavez failed his drug test as well.

California State Athletic Commission Executive Director Andy Foster relayed the discovery of Chavez’s failed drug test to The MMA Report.

The CSAC has suspended Shlemenko’s license indefinitely and assessed the statutory maximum fine of $2,500.00.  Shlemenko defeated Melvin Manhoef on February 13th in Fresno, California.

Scott Coker issued the following statement to MMA Junkie’s John Morgan regarding Shlemenko:

“We are disappointed to hear about the results of Shlemenko’s drug test.  As I’ve stated previously, performance enhancing drugs have no place in this sport, and Bellator fully supports the commission in enforcing harsh penalties to deter fighters from taking banned substances.”

The Manhoef victory has been overturned and will be ruled a no contest.

Payout Perspective:

There was no immediate word on Chavez’s drug test and a punishment for him although one might think it comparable to Shlemenko.  We are once again met with the issue of PEDs and MMA.  Coker indicated after Bellator 127 where 4 fighters failed drug tests that Bellator would not tolerate PED use by its fighters.  We shall see if Coker implements additional penalties to either Shlemenko or Chavez after more information on their tests are discovered.

Details disclosed in Bellator-Rampage lawsuit

March 5, 2015

Newsday reports the details filed within the complaint by Bellator MMA against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. The complaint filed in New Jersey provides some interesting financial tidbits on Jackson’s contract.

A hearing will be held on April 2nd to determine whether Jackson will be able to fight in the UFC 186 in April.

Jackson received a $200,000 bonus for Bellator’s May 2014 PPV despite not meeting the PPV threshold bonuses indicated in his contract.

Jackson’s contract also included a 2013 Tesla Sport worth $129,603, a $100,000 signing bonuses and guaranteed fight purses between $200,000 and $300,000 for non-PPV fights. He would receive between $200,000 and $450,000 for a PPV fight. Jackson also received a $50,000 guarantee if the event did not receive a certain revenue from sponsors. The contract was negotiated between Jackson’s representatives and then-Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney.

Additional incentives included:

-30% of Bellator’s net gate receipts over $400,000 at events where he fought

-$35,000 per episode for the SpikeTV Reality Series “Rampage 4 Real”

-A screenwriter for a feature film project and access to Paramount Pictures to develop film projects

-A red carpet appearance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards

-$4 for every Bellator 120 PPV buy over 190,000

-Bellator spent $250,000 to advertise Bellator 120 during the NBA Playoffs

-Bellator spent $200,000 to secure rights to a Rolling Stones song for an advertisement featuring Rampage

Bellator filed a lawsuit and injunction this past Monday as a result of Jackson’s purported breach of contract.

Payout Perspective:

Some of the demands seem unattainable and perhaps that’s the reason why Bellator agreed to them (i.e. $4 PPV buys over 190K, 30% of Bellator’s net gate over $400K). Other inclusions in the contract seem very good for Jackson (i.e., $35K per ep for that show, $200K bonus for Bellator 120). Jackson’s management team cited Jackson’s right to breach based on the contract being an “entertainment” contract. Looking at the details, the overall pay guarantees and sweeteners (red carpet appearance and car) is favorable for Jackson.

Bellator 134 draws avg viewership of 872,000

March 3, 2015

Bellator MMA 134 drew an average viewership of 872,000 viewers peaking at 1.2 million viewers during the Liam McGeary-Emanuel Newton main event.

The McGeary-Newton fight averaged 1.1 million viewers.  McGeary won a unanimous decision over Newton to win the Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship.

Bellator 2015

Overnight Peak
Bellator 132 767,000 1,200,000
Bellator 133   565,000 967,000
Bellator 134 872,000 1,200,000

Payout Perspective:  

A 3 plus hour show on Bellator still drew very well as it made it the most-watch Bellator event of 2015.  Aside from the main event, it also included King Mo-Kongo and the “confrontation” between Kimbo Slice and Ken Shamrock to start to hype their fight this June.

Slice-Shamrock scheduled for June Bellator MMA event on Spike TV

February 26, 2015

MMA Junkie reports that Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson will finally meet Ken Shamrock as part of a Bellator card slated for June 20th at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.  The show will headline a Spike TV televised main card.

As MMA Junkie points out, the Bellator event will take place on the same day as UFC Fight Night 69 in Berlin.  The UFC event looks to be a Fight Pass only card.

Slice signed with Bellator MMA last month.  The 41 year old has not fought in MMA since his loss to Matt Mitrone in 2010.

Kimbo Slice-Ken Shamrock was the main event on an EliteXC card on CBS back in 2008.  MMA fans may recall that Shamrock was a late scratch and replaced by Seth Petruzelli.  Slice was knocked out by Petruzelli in the first round and the reputation of Kimbo took a big hit.

Payout Persepctive:

It will be interesting to see how the Missouri Athletic Commission deals with this fight as Slice is in his 40s and has not fought in 5 years.  Shamrock is 51 and although he was scheduled to fight in a bare knuckle match in April, he last had an MMA fight in November 2010.  The booking falls in line with Bellator’s “tent pole” events.  We saw this last November with Ortiz-Bonnar.  It was a ratings success.  Slice-Shamrock should provide the same.  Slice has been a ratings draw and Bellator is hoping that he still is.

WWE-Lesnar contract negotiations stall

February 26, 2015

Dave Meltzer of MMA Fighting reports that Brock Lesnar and the WWE have stalled in negotiations on a new contract.  The former UFC heavyweight champ could be heading back to MMA with either Bellator or the UFC.

Lesnar was advertised to appear on this week’s WWE Raw on Monday but never appeared despite being at the arena.  Meltzer’s sources indicated that the no-show was due to an impasse on a new contract.  It was described as “resolvable, but not yet resolved.”

Lesnar has 4 appearances left with the WWE before his contract expires.  The WWE would like to extend his contract prior to it ending at this year’s Wrestlemania in March.

Despite being 38 years old, Lesnar would be welcomed back to MMA by the UFC or Bellator.

Payout Perspective:

It’s interesting that despite his previous injuries and age, Lesnar would command a bidding war.  One would think that based on the contract impasse with the WWE, that Lensar has some leverage as the UFC and perhaps Bellator would be interested in signing the former UFC heavyweight champion.  Despite his short stint with the UFC, Lesnar was a major PPV draw and despite his layoff, his return would likely be a big event.  One would think that the UFC would be willing to spend the money on Lesnar as it is in need of PPV needle-movers.  Also, Bellator might be a destination under the new Scott Coker regime.

Bellator 133 overnight and adjusted viewership numbers

February 18, 2015

Bellator 133 held last Friday night drew an average viewership of 565,000 on Spike TV which is considerably down from January’s Bellator 132.  Its adjusted viewership (Live +3) increased to 606,000 viewers.

The event peaked at 967,000 viewers.  In the main event, Alexander Shlemenko used a spinning backfist to KO Melvin Manhoef in the second round.

Bellator 2015 viewership

Payout Perspective:

In terms of competition, the NBA All Star Events may have drawn some viewers away although it seems like the demo watching those festivities would not watch Bellator.  The NBA Celebrity Game on ESPN at 7:00pm drew 1.78 million viewers while the Rising Stars game on TNT held at 9:00pm drew 1.55 million viewers per Television By Numbers.  In terms of winning the night in cable ratings “Gold Rush” (4.6 million) followed by “Alaskan Bush People” (3.8 million) on the Discovery Channel were 1-2 in the cable ratings.

Coker ok with uniform drug testing policy if all support it

February 16, 2015

MMA Junkie reports on Bellator’s Scott Coker addressing the need for uniform MMA drug testing.

Coker indicated his approval for a “worldwide testing policy” for MMA.  However, he stated that “everyone would have to support it” lest it not work.  Obviously, we may infer Coker is alluding to the UFC which is in need of a solution to its recent influx of fighters failing drug tests.

But, the UFC is not the only one with drug issues.  Coker had four of his fighters fail drug tests at Bellator 127 last year.  Coker indicated that the commissions, which regulate the fights in the states where the company holds events, administer the drug tests.  He did not attest to what was done prior to taking over Bellator.  He stated that he reached out to all of his fighters about fighting clean after Bellator 127.

The Mohegan Department of Athletic Regulation (MDAR) will administer the drug tests for Bellator’s next event February 27th.  MDAR conducts “out of competition” drug testing in addition to its standard testing.

Payout Perspective:

While Coker’s call for a uniform policy of drug testing sounds positive, it can do more by being the leader in drug testing for the sport rather than calling for all organizations to abide by the same set of rules.  Calling for a “worldwide testing policy” seems like Bellator is putting the drug issue into UFC’s lap to make a move first.  Certainly, if Bellator adopted a stringent drug policy it would make a statement about its commitment to integrity in the sport.  Coker talking to his fighters about fighting clean is a good thing but I’m sure this will not be a deterrent for some fighters looking for any advantage that they can get.

Spike TV announces “Friday Night Lights Out”

February 13, 2015

Spike TV has announced that its combat sports-branded Friday night now has a name. Per a press release it has named it “Friday Night Lights Out” with the first night under the new moniker starting March 13th.

Below is a portion of the Spike TV press release:

Spike TV has given combat sports fans a destination every Friday night with its action-packed Bellator MMA, “Premier Boxing Champions,” and Glory kickboxing. Now, Spike TV has given that destination a name – SPIKE’S FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS OUT.

Launching on Friday, March 13 at 9:00pm ET/PT with the debut of “Premier Boxing Champions,” Spike TV will package its hard-hitting roster of combat sports franchises under the FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS OUT banner.

Each FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS OUT live telecast on Spike TV will include special content including in-depth feature segments showcasing the fighters and their unique personal stories.

“With first-rate production values, engaging on-air personalities, and some of the most athletically-gifted and fearsome athletes in the world, FRIDAYNIGHT LIGHTS OUT on Spike TV is THE must-see home for sports fans on Fridays nights,” said Jon Slusser, Senior Vice President, Sports and Branded Entertainment.

On-air and digital spots for SPIKE’S FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS OUT sports block promoting the March 13 PBC event will begin during the “Bellator 133: Manhoef vs. Shlemenko” telecast on Friday, February 13 at 9:00pm ET/PT.


Payout Perspective:

Friday Night Lights Out should be an interesting programming experiment for Spike TV. Each sport (Bellator, Glory and PBC) should complement the other as it’s the hope that fans of one will give the other sport a try. It’s clear that Spike TV wants to give this night a chance by building it out with production as well. We will see what the product looks like March 13th.

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