Bellator’s 10th season got underway on Friday night with 880,000 viewers tuning in for the live action on Spike TV.
That practically doubles the audience of their Season 9 premiere which got off to a dismal start last year with just 437,000 viewers.
So, this is a positive start to their 2014 campaign and the presence of former UFC star Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, who defeated Christian M’Pumbu in the main event will have been largely to thank for that.
The fight peaked with 1.1 million viewers during the headliner, comparable with ‘Rampage’s Bellator debut last year which peaked with 1.2 million viewers.
That’s well ahead of Bellator’s normal viewership, and will be particularly pleasing given that there was competition in the form of a WSOF tape-delay show and a Titan FC live event on the same evening.
However, the question now is whether they can now retain that in the coming weeks, or if they’ll fall back to the 600-700,000 mark that became the norm for them in this Friday night slot last year.
More than likely there will be a drop, particular since, unlike the previous season, they haven’t added any major names to their roster that could significantly move the needle on the ratings front (though it wasn’t for a lack of trying when it came to Gilbert Melendez in particular).
With that in mind it looks like they are generally going to have to rely on their homegrown stars to perform well without any additional help, and there are a number of title fights planned to front their upcoming shows, so it’ll be interesting to follow how they get on.