Bellator’s first show of 2017 was a big hit for its ratings. A Spike TV press release confirmed on Tuesday that last Saturday’s Bellator 170 show in Inglewood, California averaged 1.4 million viewers, a figure that’s only surpassed by Bellator 149: Shamrock vs. Gracie (1.96 million), and Bellator 138: Slice vs. Shamrock (1.58 million). Paul Daley’s flying knee KO of Brennan Ward in the co-main event was seen by approximately 1.7 million viewers, while Tito Ortiz‘s submission win over Chael Sonnen peaked at 1.85 million to close out the show. Those numbers are expected to climb once the DVR +3 totals are released on Thursday.
This is a great start to the new year for Bellator MMA, who experienced a ratings drop in 2016, admittedly acknowledging that Comcast’s moving of Spike to a higher-tiered cable package may have cost the network some subscribers. Ortiz and Sonnen are both more-than-familiar faces to casual fans, and have headlined several high-profile UFC shows over the years. They (well, mostly Sonnen) produced a considerable amount of heated trash-talking throughout the pre-fight buildup, and the event as a whole drew interest for both the preliminary card and the post-fight presser. The press release noted that:
- The Bellator 170 prelims drew the second most viewers on Bellator.com and Bellator mobile app in franchise history (only behind Bellator 149).
- The post-fight press conference streamed exclusively on YouTube saw the most concurrent viewers in Bellator history.
- #Bellator170 was the #1 trending topic on Twitter during the event and Tito Ortiz, Chael Sonnen and Bellator MMA trended #1 on Google Trends.
The next major “tentpole” event is only a few weeks away, with Fedor Emelianenko making his Bellator debut against Matt Mitrione on Saturday, February 18th in San Jose, California. We’ll see if Fedor’s drawing power in 2017 is still strong enough that it can out-perform Bellator 170.