Bellator: Fight Master drew an average of 595,000 viewers in it’s new 11pm Thursday time slot on Spike TV this week.
That’s up 197,000 viewers from the previous week and pegs it as the second highest rating of the season so far.
So, the move from Wednesday prime-time has actually proven to be an immediate success, primarily thanks to the fact that it now follows on from the TNA Wrestling show which drew 1.3 million viewers.
It’s interesting to note that TNA has actually began threading in an angle involving newly signed Bellator fighters Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Tito Ortiz into their shows and both featured during Thursday’s show.
At this stage anything that helps Fight Master’s flagging ratings has to be considered a success, and under the circumstances nearly 600,000 viewers is a good result and comes as something of a relief.
Having said that, as I hinted at last week, the big concern for Bellator and Spike TV now is that they appear to be heavily reliant on using the wrestling show to drive an audience to their MMA output.
That could explain why Bellator season 8 drew relatively solid ratings earlier this year, consistently in the 700-900,000 range, but when moved to a different night away from TNA in the past few months the ratings for both their ‘summer series’ of live events and the new ‘Fight Master’ reality show slumped.
One takeaway from this is that some wrestling fans appear willing to give Bellator a chance if it’s served up right in front of them, but they won’t go out of their way to watch it if it’s not.
Over and above that though, it would also seem that the MMA fanbase that Spike TV built up during the UFC’s heyday there has erroded significantly since the UFC’s departure to the FOX network.
My biggest concern right now remains the fact that Spike TV have opted to move Bellator’s ninth season in September to Friday nights where it’ll have to stand on it’s own two feet. If that doesn’t work then it too may have to admit defeat and move back under TNA’s wing in order to pull a solid rating.