Being the lesser of two events over the weekend, Bellator’s tape-delayed event this past Friday on Paramount did 276,000 viewers.
It was the company’s second-lowest prime time number of the year.
The show, from the 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland, was headlined by former UFC fighters Benson Henderson beating Myles Jury via unanimous decision. It was a split show, as Paramount ran Bellator 227 with Henderson vs. Jury the only fight with marquee value. Two other stars, James Gallagher and Michael “Venom” Page, scored first-round wins for a live show that aired on broadcast television in the U.K., but was only available via streaming in the U.S.
Bellator’s major show over the weekend, the Saturday event from the Forum in Los Angeles, aired exclusively on DAZN. That show featured four first-round fights in the featherweight Grand Prix and Gegard Mousasi ‘s win over Lyoto Machida, aired exclusively on DAZN.
Bellator’s lowest number of 2018 was for a March 22 show from Thackerville, Okla., featuring two names in the featherweight Grand Prix, Emmanuel Sanchez, who won his opening-round bout, and Georgi Karakhanyan, who was eliminated on Saturday by A.J. McKee. The show did 255,000 viewers.
Bellator’s television ratings on Paramount are down 31 percent from last year, but there are major extenuating circumstances that make direct comparisons misleading. This year, the biggest Bellator shows are mostly DAZN exclusives. Prior to September 29, 2018, Paramount was airing all Bellator shows, so the big events greatly boosted the average number.
On the flip side, Combate Americas on Sept. 20 drew the second-largest audience in its history, with 530,000 viewers between Univision and Univision Deportes watching a live Friday night midnight broadcast. In the main event, Rafa Garcia became the company’s first lightweight champion with a win over Erick Gonzalez.
The Combate show audience was 48 percent women, roughly 255,000, a much higher percentage than UFC and Bellator, which usually range from 22 to 33 percent female viewers.
Even though Combate has fighters with lesser name than that of Bellator – and airs in a worse time slot – the major difference is that overall Univision is a much stronger broadcast platform than Paramount, in particular with the Hispanic audience.