16 for 16: No. 14 Bellator 149

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.

Bellator 169 draws 643,000 viewers

December 19, 2016

Bellator 169 on Spike TV Friday night drew 643,000 viewers per Sports TV Ratings.  The event was tape delayed from Dublin, Ireland but still produced the best ratings for a Bellator event since September.

In the main event Muhammed Lawal defeated Satoshi Ishii via unanimous decision.  Per Sports TV Ratings, it drew 266,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

Despite being on tape delay, the event had the highest average viewership since Bellator 161 in September.  College Football on ESPN2 and NBA Basketball on NBA were the biggest draws for sports tv on cable during the 9:00pm-11:00pm ET time slot.  Through 169, the Bellator TV average on Spike is 677,000 viewers which is still behind the 749,000 of 2015.

Bellator 168 peaks at 838,000 viewers

December 16, 2016

Bellator MMA 168 drew 559,000 viewers last Saturday afternoon including DVR+3 numbers and peaking with 838,000 viewers.

The event drew 529,000 viewers in Live + same day viewership.  Unlike other Bellator events, this telecast had a modest markup for DVR viewers likely due to the afternoon airing.

Bellator 168 draws 529,000 viewers

December 13, 2016

Bellator 168 on Saturday afternoon drew 529,000 viewers on Spike TV per Nielsen.  The event was form Firenze, Italy.

The main event featured Alessio Sakara and Joey Beltran with Sakara earning the victory via TKO. The event drew 201,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo per Sports TV Ratings.

Payout Perspective:

The 529,000 viewers are slightly lower from last week.  The event took place prior to the UFC Prelims on Saturday night which may have detracted some viewers since that would place it in the afternoon for west coast viewers.

GSP visits Bellator MMA’s Scott Coker

November 20, 2016

Georges St. Pierre met with Bellator MMA’s Scott Coker on Saturday night during Bellator 165 from San Jose, California.  GSP is currently at a contract impasse with the UFC.

St. Pierre’s lawyer targeted next year as a possibility for the former UFC middleweight champion to return to action with the company as they have conceded that negotiations for a return to UFC 206 next month have failed.  However, GSP’s presence at the Bellator event fanned the flames that he could jump to Viacom-owned Bellator.

GSP’s legal team has indicated that he has other options outside of the UFC although they did not specify what those could be.

Payout Perspective:

It won’t be that easy for GSP to jump to Bellator unless there is some sort of settlement between the UFC and GSP.  Still, it’s likely that the UFC will make a push to renegotiate with GSP in 2017 to keep GSP and ensure he does not leave for a competitor.

Bellator 163: 507,000 viewers

November 7, 2016

Bellator 163 drew 507,000 viewers on Spike TV Friday night per Sports TV Ratings.  It’s a decrease of approximately 13% from last month’s show.  It’s the lowest ratings for a Bellator show in 2016.

In the main event of the night, Phil Davis captured the Bellator Light Heavyweight title over Liam McGeary.

According to Sports TV Ratings, it drew 254,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.


Payout Perspective:

Pretty bad ratings for an otherwise good show.  The NBA ruled the night with New York-Chicago and then Golden State-Lakers on ESPN.  Still, the 507,000 total viewers have to be disappointing considering there was a title fight on the show.  One might infer the indifference MMA fans have toward Bellator based on the fact it’s the lowest rated Bellator show of the year.

Updated Bellator 162 ratings

October 27, 2016

Bellator 162 last Friday night drew 659,000 viewers in adjusted DVR +3 ratings.  Its an increase from the 562,000 viewers in Live + SD.

The event peaked at 956,000 viewers during the main event between Shlemenko and Grove.

The ratings made it the third-highest cable sporting event last Friday night behind two college football games on ESPN.

Bellator 162 draws 582,000 viewers

October 24, 2016

Bellator 162 drew 582,000 viewers on Spike TV Friday night per Sports TV Ratings.  It’s a slight decrease of over 15% from Bellator 161.

In the main event, Alexander Shlemenko defeated Kendall Grove in the main event.  According to Sports TV Ratings, it drew 259,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.


Payout Perspective:

College Football ruled Friday night with the Oregon-Cal game on ESPN drawing over 1.5 million viewers despite the fact it went into the middle of the night.  Prior to that, the South Florida-Temple game drew 1.3 million viewers.  While there were some interesting matchups and the first of likely many promos between Tito Ortiz and Chael Sonnen, there was nothing to tune into that you would have regretted missing.

Parsons diagnosed with CTE

October 21, 2016

The Boston Globe reports that former Bellator MMA fighter Jordan Parsons was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).  Parsons, who died after he was struck by a vehicle while as a pedestrian in May of this year is the first known case of an MMA fighter suffering from CTE.

Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist, disclosed the diagnosis.  Dr. Omalu first discovered CTE with former NFL football player Mike Webster after he passed away.  It led to the investigation of CTE in other NFL football players and eventually the lawsuits related to the discovery.  Dr. Omalu was portrayed by actor Will Smith in the movie, “Concussion.”

Currently, the WWE is defending a lawsuit brought by former contracted wrestlers related to CTE.  Of the claims, it believes that the WWE knew of the dangers of performing but allowed its contracted workers to continue with stunts that caused head trauma.

Payout Perspective:

Parsons’ diagnosis is ominous for Bellator and the UFC as they need only look to what has gone on with lawsuits in the NFL, NHL and WWE.  Certainly, Parsons is just one case, but it could lead to further investigation with former fighters that might bring legal action against promoters.

Bellator announces Ortiz-Sonnen

October 19, 2016

Bellator’s Scott Coker announced on ESPN’s Sportscenter that Chael Sonnen will take on Tito Ortiz which will headline a show on January 21, 2017 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

Sonnen announced his return to the sport last month.  He has participated in grappling matches and served as a WSOF color commentator during his time away from active action.

Ortiz has not fought since a submission loss to Liam McGeary in September 2015.

Payout Perspective:

Bellator is getting the same treatment as the UFC as ESPN is giving the Viacom-owned company the same platform to announce major news.  Sonnen-Ortiz will have some good promotion leading up to the fight but we will see how much the actual fight will live up to the lead-up.  Certainly, the shoulder programming, which we anticipate to be on SpikeTV, should provide some interesting color.  We assume that this will be Bellator’s next tent-pole event.

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