February 22, 2017
Bellator MMA drew 807,000 viewers on Saturday night on Spike TV per Sports TV Ratings. The event also drew 407,000 in the adult 18-49 demo.
The main event was to be Matt Mitrione and Fedor Emelianenko but that fell through just hours before the show was to start. The event went on with Josh Thomson taking on Patricky Freire in the main event. Pitbull stopped Thomson in the second round in his home town.
Certainly, you have to think that Bellator expected more from this event but with the late cancellation and no Fedor, 807,000 viewers seems pretty good. It went up against NBA All-Star Saturday night on TNT which drew over 5.6 million viewers as well as Showtime Boxing during a free preview weekend.
February 18, 2017
Matt Mitrione is out of Bellator 172 with a sickness just hours before the start of the main card. Bellator has indicated it will look to reschedule the fight at a later date.
The new main event is Josh Thomson and Patricky Freire.
There was much anticipation for this fight as the legend of Fedor is something that old school fans and new casual fans were interested in. The cancellation derails momentum for this event and potential big ratings for tonight.
Although Bellator scrambled to find a replacement, one can imagine how hard it would be to find a replacement just hours before the fight.
Bellator had been banking on this event and the pre-fight shoulder fighting was unique and entertaining. See below. Comedian Adam Carolla narrated this video vignette with many guest appearances.
February 8, 2017
The Hollywood Reporter reports that Spike TV will be rebranded as the Paramount Network. A formal announcement will happen on Thursday during Viacom’s quarterly earnings call.
Kevin Kay, the SpikeTV head is expected to stay on with the rebranding according to the report.
Rebranding could begin as early as 2018.
The network’s target demo has been young males. The UFC started on Spike before it signed its television deal with Fox. It was the birthplace for The Ultimate Fighter. It currently airs Bellator MMA programming.
It’s not known whether the rebranding will mean a refocus on programming. But, whenever there are rebranding efforts, there’s a likelihood that it means that there will be changes to make the network more attractive to a greater group of people. With more cord cutters and alternative means of viewing programs, network executives are attempting to change with the new normal.
January 26, 2017
Bellator 170 drew 2.2 million viewers for the main event between Tito Ortiz and Chael Sonnen on Spike TV on Saturday night.
The Paul Daley-Brennan Ward fight drew 2 million viewers as well. The entire 3 hour telecast drew 1.5 million viewers in adjusted DVR+3 ratings.
Notable DVR+3 main events for Bellator on Spike TV:
Rampage Jackson-Satoshi Ishii at Dynamite 2 (June 2016): 1,040,000 viewers (entire fight)
Kimbo Slice-Dada 5000 at Bellator 149 (February 2016): 2.9 million viewers
Liam McGeary-Tito Ortiz at Dynamite 1 (September 2015): 891,000 viewers
Kimbo Slice-Ken Shamrock at Bellator 138 (June 2015): 2.8 million viewers
Tito Ortiz-Stephan Bonnar at Bellator 131 (November 2014): 2 million viewers
January 24, 2017
Bellator 170 drew 1.374 million viewers on Saturday night on Spike TV per Sports TV Ratings. It peaked at 1.85 million viewers during the Chael Sonnen-Tito Ortiz fight per Spike TV.
Sports TV Ratings notes that it drew 703,000 in the A18-49 demo.
Spike TV notes that the co-main event between Paul Daley and Brennan Ward drew 1.7 million viewers. The 3-hour broadcast ranked first in cable with men 18-49 in the timeslot.
The event drew less than Bellator 149’s average of 1,964,000 viewers but 170 was the highest-rated event on Spike since last February’s event. The event shows the drawing power of the elder MMA fighters. Certainly, the promos for the fight between Sonnen and Ortiz helped promote the event and drew 1.85 million for their fight. The peak viewership for the main event was slightly more than the 1.8 million that tuned in for Tito versus Stephan Bonnar in November 2014.
January 9, 2017
Zachery Light is dismissing his lawsuit against Bellator. Light’s attorney filed a Request for Dismissal on December 20, 2016.
The Request was signed by Light’s attorney, William Crosby, and Bellator’s counsel Richard Kendall.
The dismissal is “with prejudice” which would end both Light’s lawsuit against Bellator and Bellator’s cross-claim against Light. The details can be found here and in the original lawsuit in which Light stated that the promotion disobeyed laws for forging medial information for fighters. Light claimed that Scott Coker and Rich Chou advised the former Bellator employee not to press the issue.
Bellator claimed that Light requested a loan from the company and was given $9,403 and entered into a written agreement with Light that made him pay back the money on an agreed schedule. Bellator claims that he never paid back the loan.
In all likelihood, the parties have decided to settle their dispute without incurring further litigation costs. Also, I would suppose a non-disclosure agreement was signed by Light which would preclude him from talking about the case. It would be interesting to know of the allegations regarding Bellator hiring Kogan while he still managed fighters. Of course, Light probably could not sustain paying his legal bills up against Bellator. From all indications, he is now working for MMAAA.
January 8, 2017
Jumping on the possibility of receiving mainstream possibility from an off-hand remark made by Meryl Streep during her acceptance speech at The Golden Globes Sunday night, Scott Coker sent out an invitation for her to attend Bellator’s event on January 21st.
Streep, making a statement with her speech on immigration, made a flippant remark that if the new administration were to curb foreigners from American we would be left with the “NFL and mixed martial arts.” She added that football and MMA were not the arts.
Coker sent out a statement via twitter soon after her comments made it to social media:
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) January 9, 2017
Kudos for Streep for naming the sport and not the “UFC” when referring to the sport. For those that took her comments as a biting criticism of MMA, you are too sensitive. As for Coker’s comments, it’s a chance at mainstream PR and an added talking point for Chael Sonnen and Tito Ortiz to promote. It’s unlikely Streep will attend the event in Inglewood on January 21 but it was a chance to get the name and event in the news.
December 26, 2016
Benson Henderson, Rory MacDonald and Chael Sonnen signed with Bellator MMA this year reflecting a new age of free agency for MMA. Fedor Emelianenko was also signed by the Viacom-owned company in 2016.
Bellator continued with its strategy of signing fighters with some fan notoriety to headline as well as sign accomplished amateur wrestlers to groom for the future. Three-time NCAA Division 2 wrestling champ Romero Cotton signed an exclusive MMA contract with Bellator in November.
In addition to Cotton, Bellator added Joey Davis, Jarod Trice and Tyrell Fotune. Ed Ruth, a Penn St. amateur wrestler signed in 2015 and made his debut in November 2016. Aaron Pico also signed with Bellator but has yet to make his debut.
Henderson signed with Bellator after his contract ended with the UFC. Thus far, Henderson has not fared well in Bellator. He was thoroughly dominated by Andrey Koreshkov in his Bellator debut at welterweight. He moved back down to lightweight to challenge for Michael Chandler’s title. In a fight to see who would face Chandler, he defeated Patricio Pitbull Freire due to an injury by Pitbull. Henderson went on to lose to Chandler this past November for the lightweight title.
Rory MacDonald signed this August after his contract expired in June. He has yet to fight in Bellator but it appears he will compete at middleweight and welterweight for the company.
Sonnen may have been the surprise since he has been out of action since 2013. He signed with Bellator in September and now is scheduled for a tentpole event in January 2017 against Tito Ortiz.
The Fedor signing should be a big deal for many international and Strikeforce fans that want to relive the glory days of The Last Emperor. Coming out of retirement, it’s likely that we won’t see him in any title fights but just features with handpicked opponents.
The strategy of signing ex-UFC talent seems to work. Certainly, Sonnen-Ortiz will draw big ratings especially since the UFC moved its event off of the same day. While using the former UFC fighters to draw in fans for name recognition, it allows the company to allow the young former amateur wrestlers get fights under their belt without the pressure of being a featured fighter.
We’ll likely see more UFC fighters take a look at free agency as more fighters weigh their options post-UFC sale. This may allow Bellator to be more particular in looking at fighters to sign.
16 for 16
14. Bellator 149
15. CM Punk debuts
December 21, 2016
Bellator 169 drew 699,000 viewers in DVR +3 ratings per Nielsen. The event peaked with 965,000 viewers.
The event, which aired on Friday on tape delay drew 965,000 viewers. The event featured King Mo Lawal as he defeated Satoshi Ishii in Dublin, Ireland. It was the most-watched international Bellator MMA event to date.
The event drew 643,000 viewers in live + SD ratings. It was the best showing for a Bellator TV event since September 2016. Friday’s event was the highest peak since Bellator 167 peaked at 967,000.
December 20, 2016
In match-ups that reflect the organization’s penchant for odd attractions, Bellator 149 featured former street fighters Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000 and fighters past their prime Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie.
Actually, you could argue that all four of the featured fighters should not have been in the cage on February 19th. Yet, it was the biggest audience for Bellator in 2016.
In the last fight of the night, Gracie defeated Shamrock in round 1. While we could digest this since it didn’t last long, Slice-Dada was unbearable to watch after the first minute of the fight.
Booked as a brawl between two ex-street fighters, Kevin Ferguson and Dhafir Harris ran out of gas after the first minute of the fight and, as we learned later, Harris almost died in the cage as he essentially gave up due to exhaustion. Ferguson tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone post-fight and his win was overturned to a no-contest.
In addition, Shamrock tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone and methadone.
Despite the main event of Slice and Dada and the post-fight failed tests, the event was the highest-rated event for the company. Each fight on the telecast drew over 1.9 million viewers while the fights between Ferguson-Harris (2.9M) and Gracie-Shamrock (2.8M) surged to over 2 million viewers on Spike TV.
The Bellator tentpole model has worked and this event highlights the sports entertainment aspect of MMA. The Slice-Dada promos for the fight were “must see” television. The actual fight was not. But, viewers were drawn to watch. Ferguson, who passed away this past June, was a ratings magnet which likely helped the ratings. Nostalgia of Shamrock-Gracie also brought casual viewers to watch.
One of the big questions about the event was how the main event participants were able to obtain a license to fight. While there is no link between Ferguson’s death and his fighting career, one has to wonder what was included in his medical information to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Same could be asked of Harris. It was clear he was in no condition to fight, yet was still granted a license. While he met the requirements, one has to wonder how stringent they were at the time.