Don’t you just love wonkish discussions about MMA ratings and demographics and quarter hour segment breakdowns? OF COURSE YOU DO! As Dana White mentioned, a war is a brewin’ between the UFC and Viacom / Bellator, and one of the main fronts will be ratings and ratings interpretations. Dave Meltzer – who helped popularized the whole ratings obsession thing when the WWE and WCW threw down – weighs in on how Bellator’s first event on Spike TV fared:
The debut Thursday night did a 0.7 rating and 938,000 viewers, nearly six times as many viewers as the show averaged in its Friday night time slot on MTV2. The show also did a 0.7 in the target Males 18-34 demo.
The show easily beat most projections of 650,000 to 700,000 viewers for the debut, and was not all that far off the 1.2 million viewers that UFC averaged for eight live cards on higher rated FX during 2012.
Yahoo’s Kevin Iole repeats Dave’s positive points, but also pours several buckets of cold water over the numbers:
However, it failed significantly in several other categories. It had a strong lead-in from TNA Impact Wrestling, which averaged 1.82 million viewers, and failed to keep it. Bellator MMA Live shed 49 percent of the audience the wrestling show delivered. The number of males 18-34, which is MMA’s primary demographic, was roughly the same for wrestling and Bellator. TNA Impact Wrestling drew 141,000 18-to-34-year-old males, while Bellator increased that slightly to 149,000.
The biggest concern for Spike and Bellator officials has to be its performance among 18-to-34 year-old males. Season 13 was the worst-perform year of The Ultimate Fighter, yet it still averaged 578,000 among men 18-34. That was 388 percent better than Bellator’s performance Thursday among the same demographic.
The worst the UFC ever did on Spike among males 18-34 was at Ultimate Fight Night 22, when he it attracted 445,000 viewers in the demographic.
Bellator MMA Live also declined Thursday in six of its quarter hour segments, suggesting viewers turned away.
It’s been a while since I’ve gotten to dust off this old accusation, but Kevin Iole used to have his tongue firmly engaged way the fuck up Dana White’s butthole. So it shouldn’t be all that big of a surprise that he ends up being the one to respond to Meltzer’s glowing ratings write-up with a much more negative view on the subject. Dana White has straight up accused Meltzer of being Viacom’s bitch and focusing on the wrong numbers, but it would be far less surprising to learn Iole was the one given ‘the important figures really worth writing about.’