Bellator Looking at Ratings on Spike TV as a “Marathon Not a Sprint”

January 17, 2013
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The next few days will be a crucial time for Bellator Fighting Championships as they debut on Spike TV and look to define themselves as a promotion on the same level of the UFC.

The UFC has a stranglehold on the market when casual observers are talking about the “major leagues” of MMA, but that doesn’t mean Bellator can’t exist on the same playing field.

No one doubts that it’s going to take time for Bellator to build an audience and grow viewers at Spike, just like the UFC encountered when they moved to the network in 2005. That doesn’t mean judgments won’t be made based on the first show airing on Thursday night featuring two title fights and the launch of the newest installment of their light heavyweight tournament.

Whether right or wrong, a secondary judgment will also be rendered when the ratings for Bellator’s debut come out 24 to 48 hours after the show airs. Can Bellator produce the same kinds of numbers that the UFC once did on Spike TV?

It’s a valid question, but maybe not one that should be asked after one show, and that’s the attitude that Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney is keeping as his company looks to build into the next major MMA promotion on television.

“One of the things that’s great from my perspective is that Kevin Kay, who heads Spike network, has really been a partner in every sense of the word to me and to the organization. He and I have a very similar view of this – we view this as a marathon, not as a sprint,” said Rebney when speaking about the ratings with MMAWeekly Radio.

“We’re tweaking it and building it, but our vision is very long in terms of where this is going to go, and very long term in terms of our expectations and how we’re going to build it.”

Bellator first debuted highlight shows on Spike TV called “Bellator 360” featuring some of their best and brightest fights from the past couple of years. Between the first two airings, the show ended up with nearly a million viewers overall, and that has to bee seen as encouraging considering the programming barely had any promotion ahead of time.

Rebney promises not to freak out good or bad when the final numbers for Thursday’s show come back from Nielsen’s rating system. He’s looking at the long-term goals for Bellator and Spike TV, and that won’t be accomplished on the first day they go into business together on live television.

“You become less concerned with the immediacy and the numbers, and you’re concerned with building out incredible fighters, building up the back stories behind them, creating great programming, creating the best mixed martial arts content anybody can find on television. That’s really what our focus is,” said Rebney.

“It’s a good start and we’ll see where we go from there.”

  • Milosc

    One of the nicest guys in MMA became one of it’s biggest assholes, with one ‘slave-trade’ gone sour

    (What do you call a man who is not legally permitted to chose if, when, and for whom he works [under penalty]? Say what you will about ‘owner’ privileges, only the chains have changed)

    • Sahte

      If you’re talking about the Eddie Alvarez contract dispute between Zuffa and Bellator… it’s called signing the dotted line, in other words business, pure and simple. So your reference to slavery is completed absurd. Just because the rules of engagement ended with Bellator having power for once, doesn’t give you the right to speak like a pseudo-intellectual.

      • lex

        beautifully written,its ok for boxing,basketball,the nba,and everyone else who does contracts but not rebney

        • Sahte

          Agree with you 100% Lex

      • Milosc

        Hmm.. what made you think of “intellect”?

        (Your slip is showing)

        People feel sour to Rebney for the same reason you couldn’t answer the question: What’s happening to Alvarez is an ugly mess

        Good luck with your self-esteem

        • Sahte

          You should listen to Lex Milosc, you may learn something..