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.
December 19, 2016
As 2016 comes to an end, we take a look back at some of the bigger legal and business issues in MMA this year. It’s clear we know the top 3 or 4 business stories but in the coming days we’ll walk you back through some other stories.
- Former Employee sues Bellator, company sues back
In May 2016, Zachery Light sued Bellator and parent company Viacom for wrongful termination. The lawsuit includes allegations of disobeying laws by forging medical information for fighters. He also claims that he was pressured by Scott Coker and Rich Chou not to press issues related to this. He also claimed that Mike Kogan was hired by Bellator in an executive capacity while at the same time managing fighters that were put on Bellator cards. Light claimed that due to stress from the job he took a leave but was terminated upon his return.
In response to the lawsuit, Bellator filed a Cross-Complaint citing Light for conversion, theft and a breach of written contract.
The Bellator Cross-Complaint claims 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 addition, Bellator claims that he did not return “thousands of dollars in VIP ticket sales” related to Bellator 136 in Irvine, California.
Light filed an Answer in August denying the allegations made in Bellator’s Cross-Complaint.
A Case Management Conference was to be heard to give a status on the case in November but it appears that there has been a continuance of this. Light now works for MMAAA per Bjorn Rebney at the organization’s debut press conference earlier this month. It will be interesting where this lawsuit will go or if the parties will determine to settle the case before any salacious information about either Light or Bellator’s business practices surfaces for the public.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
December 5, 2016
Bellator 166 drew 613,000 viewers on Spike TV Friday night per Sports TV Ratings. The event represents a modest increase over the last several televised events and the first one over 600,000 viewers since Bellator 161.
Bellator 166 featured Eduardo Dantas as he defeated Joe Warren in the main event.
Per Sports TV Ratings, the event drew 289,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.
The 2016 Bellator MMA Live rating on Spike TV is 698,000 viewers which is slightly behind 2015’s average of 748,000 viewers.
College Football on ESPN2, NBA on ESPN and the Pac 12 Championship game on FOX likely drew away sports viewership on Friday Night. Still, the good news is that Bellator posted ratings over 600,000 viewers for the first time since September.
November 22, 2016
Bellator 165 drew 597,000 viewers on Spike TV Friday night. The main event featured Michael Chandler versus Benson Henderson for Chandler’s lightweight title.
Chandler won via decision. The event went up against UFC Fight Night 100 which aired at about the same time on FS1. The Bellator event aired from 9p-12:08am ET on Spike TV. Per Sports TV Ratings, it drew 307,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demo.
The event did fairly well against UFC on the same night. The UFC event from Brazil drew 769,000. According to sources, the Bellator event should pick up some DVR viewers when those numbers are announced. It was the second straight event in which a Bellator event has increase over the prior event.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.