Their debut season aired on tape delay on ESPN Deportes. Season 2 was broadcast on Fox Sports Net. By season 4, the promotion had moved to MTV2.
In October 2011, Viacom purchased a majority stake in the fight promotion and on Jan. 17, 2013, Bellator MMA landed on Spike TV. The move increased Bellator MMA’s viewership many times over.
Rebeny appeared on a recent episode of MMAWeekly.com content partner Knockout Radio and discussed how much he’s learned since transitioning to Spike TV and from Viacom.
“There’s so many things. If we had an hour and a half I probably couldn’t go through all the things I learned. It’s just a constant evolutionary process when you are talking about TV and you’re talking about live sports on TV. And I am blessed,” said Rebney.
A side by side comparison of Bellator’s last season on MTV 2 to their debut season on Spike TV tells the tale.
Bellator Season 7 Ratings on MTV2:
Bellator 74: 190,000 viewers
Bellator 75: 145,000 viewers
Bellator 76: 175,000 viewers
Bellator 77: 149,000 viewers
Bellator 78: 154,000 viewers
Bellator 79: 220,000 viewers
Bellator 80: 148,000 viewers
Bellator 81: 149,000 viewers
Bellator 82: 156,000 viewers
Bellator 83: 105,000 viewers
Bellator 84: 191,000 viewers
Bellator Season 8 Ratings on Spike TV:
Bellator 85: 938,000 viewers
Bellator 86: 812,000 viewers
Bellator 87: 705,000 viewers
Bellator 88: 807,000 viewers
Bellator 89: 719,000 viewers
Bellator 90: 737,000 viewers
Bellator 91: 901,000 viewers
Bellator 92: 741,000 viewers
Bellator 93: 748,000 viewers
Bellator 94: 713,000 viewers
Bellator 95: 901,000 viewers
On MTV2, Bellator only eclipsed the 200,000 viewer mark once with Bellator 79. On Spike TV, the viewership never dropped below 700,000 viewers.
“I’ve got these partners on Spike who know the space. They love our sport. They watch MMA. They track MMA,” he continued. “They know the undercard guys on the Spike.com fights. They know who’s a prospect. They know who is on the last leg of their career. They just know it, they live it, like the guys online that understand MMA and are right in the middle of the hunt.
“I’ve learned a ton of stuff. Everything from the evolution of our graphics packages to better story lines on fighters to new techniques in terms of camera work and technology, our Bellator app… There’s just so many pieces have evolved now that I’ve got this type of a team to work with. It’s a great group of folks who really understand it.”
Bellator MMA’s next event takes place on June 19 at the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla., and features a lightweight title bout and the Light Heavyweight Tournament semifinals.