Bellator 149 delivered huge ratings on Friday night according to Sports TV Ratings. The event was the highest-rated cable sports show on Friday drawing an average of 1.964,000 viewers on Spike TV.
In fact, the pre- and post-fight programming featuring Kimbo Slice and Benson Henderson respectively posted huge ratings as well.
Bellator 149 was headlined by Ken Shamrock versus Royce Gracie which drew 2.4 million viewers from 11:54pm ET-11:57pm). But everyone was talking about the Kimbo-Dada5K fight which averaged 2.5 million viewers from 11:16pm-11:30pm.
In addition, the hour and a half show preceding Bellator 149 on Spike, “Kimbo Slice: The Truth,” drew 867,000 viewers. “Unrivaled: Benson Henderson,” which aired immediately after Bellator drew 818,000 viewers. Both Bellator programs are among the highest-rated for shoulder programming for the organization.
The 1.964M viewers is the highest-rated Bellator event on Spike TV. It bests June 2015’s Bellator tentpole event by 20%.
In addition per Spike press release:
-The Kimbo-Dada fight drew a 2.3 rating with men 18-34.
-Bellator 149 was the number 1 ranked telecast of the day with men 18-34 in all of television.
-It was the most watched MMA telecast on Spike in nearly 5 years 3/26/11.
Kimbo Slice = Ratings
The New York Times reports on Bellator 149 tonight mainly focusing on Kimbo Slice’s return to the television. Regardless of his ability, the former street fighter has produced ratings and Friday night should not be any different.
The brief NYT article characterizes Bellator as a “smaller mixed martial arts organization” that uses “card attention-grabbing fights that make up in colorfulness what they lack in top-flight talent.”
Although a backhanded compliment, the numbers do not lie. Scott Coker’s “tent pole” events are always ratings boosts.
Slice has the “it” factor when it comes to viewership. Last June’s fight against Ken Shamrock drew the highest ratings in Bellator MMA’s history.
Whenever Slice is on television, he draws ratings.
His appearance on TUF in 2009 on Spike TV drew the best ratings for the franchise as the 12 episodes averaged slightly over 3 million viewers. Of course, the feud brewing between Rashad Evans and Rampage Jackson helped keep the viewership base.
Still, Slice was/is a ratings magnate. It’s worthy to note that the TUF Finale 10 featuring Slice in December 2009 drew 3.7 million viewers and peaked with 5.2 million viewers for his fight with Houston Alexander.
Prior to his stint in the UFC, his Elite XC appearances on CBS drew large ratings with 4.85 million viewers in May 2008 and 4.56 million viewers in October 2008.
Slice versus Dada 5000 will not be a technical matchup but the promotion for the fight has been nothing but spectacular. If you like grudge matches and want to see old rivals fight, you will tune in to see this.
We should have more of a breakdown on the event in the coming days. Despite the “freakshow” quality of the event, Bellator got its ratings. 3 of the top 6 cable sports programs on Friday night were Bellator on Spike TV.
But, the ratings reflect the fact that promotion and known names are what drives the Bellator model. Kimbo, Shamrock and Gracie were the top draws when in reality they should not be fighting.
But, the promotion for this fight (including the pieces involving Dada) made you excited to see these fights regardless of the reality of the outcome.
The ratings tell Spike execs that the formula works and we’ll see more of it.