Eddie Alvarez is one of the premier fighters in Bellator, but is the promotion holding itself back and keeping potential fans away by holding events on Saturdays? Photo by Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
I want to get into Bellator. I really, really do. I want to sit down each Saturday night and watch what usually turns into a good night of fights.
There's just one problem: I can't.
I don't know what it is, but for the life of me I cannot get into Bellator this season. Because of my "social life," I end up having to DVR it each week. Then, most of the time, it goes to the same DVR graveyard "The Ultimate Fighter 13" has been finding itself in, where it sits there for two weeks and gets automatically deleted. The difference between those two shows right now is that I've quit bothering to set the DVR for TUF, but each week I seek out MTV2 on my cable guide, scroll over to whatever time Bellator is on at and set the recording. My intentions are there and they are pure.
After struggling through this early on here in Season 4, I told myself (and I've said it on the radio show), "OK, Matt, when these tournaments hit the semifinals and the superfights start up, you gotta start watching. It'll get real good then." And you know what happened? Same old song and dance. I've done a large majority of my Bellator watching this season skimming through the shows a day or two after, looking at the good finishes (hello Pitbull brothers!) or getting a kick out of the weird circumstances (what's going on outdoor show?). Anything that has little to no value in the big picture (like their awesome video packages and fighter stories), gets fast forwarded right through.
So, being the type of person I am, I'm trying to figure out exactly why I can't commit to watching Bellator and I still can't really pinpoint it. I like the tournament format. I like the fighters (and having talked to many of them on Bloody Elbow Radio, want to see how they do), and I like the broadcast. The only issue I can identify is the Saturday timeslot. I can push aside things (like my girlfriend, and she understands) for UFC or Strikeforce. I can't do it for Bellator. Not on a Saturday, especially when it seems like there's UFC or Strikeforce events mostly every week. Free Saturdays are precious commodities. If Bellator continues to run on Saturdays, I foresee this general apathy continuing.
So what can be done about this? Obviously, the first suggestion I have for Bellator is to move away from Saturday. Running each week on Saturday is no good. Instead, find a day during the week (how about Wednesday?) and run your show there each week. You could hope to build a base similar to those that watch sitcoms or even wrestling shows each week. Make it a weekly institution on a day not named Saturday and there you go.
But since it appears Bellator is insistent on running Saturday, how about tweaking the format a little bit and run shows every other week instead of every week? That way, fans aren't being burned out by an every-Saturday show and would potentially be more receptive to the show and the promotion.
Judging by the promotion's ratings on MTV2, I'm not the only one having these issues. Right now, Bellator isn't maximizing its potential. There's a lot there. Bellator has a lot of talented up-and-coming fighters that deserve to be viewed by the masses. Unfortunately, until that potential is realized, they'll continue to tread water.