It was almost a given that Bellator MMA would draw much better TV ratings with its move from MTV2 over to Spike TV, but the question was how much of a difference the move would make.
Following Thursday night's Bellator 85, which was the promotion's debut on Spike TV, we now have an answer.
Bellator's Spike TV debut was a resounding success.
“We had a great night last night. (The ratings) are fantastic,” remarked Spike TV president Kevin Kay on Friday. “938,000 viewers watched the entire (Bellator 85) broadcast.”
That number is head and shoulders above anything that Bellator was able to do on MTV2.
Kay was hesitant to reveal any sort of target that he or Spike's other executives had for Bellator 85, but he sounded very pleased with nearly hitting the one million mark.
“They are really good numbers,” he repeated. “I never want to make any kind of guesses because I don't think you're ever right. I'm just happy with them. That's a great start. It's 400 percent higher than what we were doing on MTV2.”
Kay mentioned that the show started off even stronger than the average, drawing 1.1 million viewers for the Pat Curran vs. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire featherweight title fight, and then, as expected, dropped off a little bit as the show went past midnight for East Coast viewers. He mentioned that they always want to try and finish by midnight, as that is the notorious tipping point for viewer drop-off, but “it's a live event, there's not much you can do about that.”
The question now becomes how much of the initial TV ratings are generated from curiosity and how much of it will remain intact from week to week, and only time will tell the tale on that.
But for now, Spike and Bellator seem rather pleased with the start of their television partnership.