Bellator's first ever pay-per-view was an odd moment in MMA. It seems rare that fans and media go into an event so unsure of the specifics of how much business a show should be expected to do.
While there were some rumors that the show had underperformed at the box office (and, in return, reports that it had sold quite well), the interest from the PPV market was certainly a bit of an unknown.
Dave Meltzer discussed the early rumored numbers in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, "The word going around the industry was 50,000 to 65,000, leaning toward the high end, but that’s more preliminary talk this early in the game and at this point I don’t have any kind of feel for how it did."
The initial number I had heard early last week was 35,000, which was obviously low given the dramatic spike in traffic seen across the SBN network. In recent days I've heard numbers hovering around 45,000 to 55,000. The idea that it got as high as 65,000 doesn't seem unrealistic at this point and would have to be considered a success to some degree.
That doesn't mean that it made money, it very well may not have--especially with Bjorn Rebney claiming that he didn't have gate figures, something usually given to media mid-show during other events--but it isn't any sort of historic failure.
The question is, will Bellator try to build off this and do regular PPV events? Or will it be held back for an annual or semi-annual "special event?"
Here are some other non-UFC PPV numbers from the last decade for reference:
- Strikeforce/EXC Baroni vs. Shamrock - 35,000
- Pride 32: Fedor vs Coleman - 30,000
- Bodog: Fedor vs. Lindland - 13,000
- Dynamite USA - 35,000
- Affliction: Fedor vs. Sylvia - 100,000
- Affliction: Fedor vs. Arlovski - 90,000
- WEC: Aldo vs Faber - 175,000