Bellator’s Spike TV Debut Results in Big Ratings Success

By Jonathan Solomon

Ratings for Thursday night’s cable programming has been released and Bellator officials have to be ecstatic.

Spike TV president Kevin Kay said Friday, “We had a great night last night. (The ratings) are fantastic, 938,000 viewers watched the entire broadcast.” The broadcast being Bellator 85, the debut of the promotion on the network after weeks of heavy advertising for a stacked card which included two title fights.

The 938,000 figure is an all-time high for Bellator, more than nearly three times their previous record of over 300,000 viewers for an episode in May 2011 on MTV 2. Spike is available in nearly 100 million homes with MTV 2 in about 80 million.

Thursday evening’s debut peaked with about 1.1 million viewers during the featherweight title fight opener which saw Pat Curran retain the gold against Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. The main event lightweight title fight had an average of 950,000 viewers to see champion Michael Chandler choke out Rick Hawn.

The big fights continue next week for Bellator with welterweight champion Ben Askren defending against Karl Amoussou plus the company debut of “King Mo” Mohammed Lawal. Bellator 87 on January 31 will be the first show on Spike without a title fight and instead, all four lightweight tournament quarterfinal bouts scheduled.

It’s unlikely Bellator can maintain this level of viewers in short term, so all eyes will now focus on how much of a drop they will see over the next month.

Prior to this week, the last live MMA show to air on Spike TV was “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 finale on December 3, 2011 with Michael Bisping and Jason “Mayhem” Miller in the main event. The Saturday night broadcast averaged 2.5 million viewers following 13 weeks of reality television with the UFC brand.

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