Bellator’s eight season, which will be broadcast for the first time live on Spike TV, is set to begin on Thursday, 10th January according to reports today.
The company themselves have yet to confirm the date, but MMAJunkie have been able to confirm that Bellator do have a venue booked in New Jersey for that evening and officials have been booked.
If it does prove to be true then it will see Bellator moving away from a weekend spot after experimenting with both Saturday and more recently Friday night’s during it’s run on MTV2.
It’s believed that the premiere will air at 10pm ET which would allow Spike TV’s ‘TNA Wrestling’ show to serve as a lead-in to it. That would be a smart move as TNA, which currently stars Bellator fighter Muhammed ‘King Mo’ Lawal, pulls in over a million viewers on the channel and may provide a crossover audience for the MMA promotion to tap into.
It’ll be interesting to see if and how the UFC and FX will respond to this move. As we reported earlier today the weekday night that ‘The Ultimate Fighter 17’ featuring Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen will land on is still up for debate, and FX exec Chuck Saftler warned last month during a UFC media call that, “Spike should watch their asses.”
That could mean that FX would consider counter-programming Bellator’s shows, but TUF is already in somewhat of a fragile state so if they want to maximize their own ratings it would perhaps be better to err on the side of caution and opt for a night earlier in the week instead of fighting over the same audience.
Bellator does plan to launch it’s own reality show on Spike though so that’s only going to muddy the waters further and it’s going to be intriguing to watch how this potential network power struggle plays out in the early months of next year.