Recent Bellator MMA free agent acquisition Gegard Mousasi was able to escape with a win in his promotional debut at Bellator 185, but it wasn't enough to avoid another lackluster and down-trending television rating for the company.
According to Nielsen Media Research, the Oct. 20 airing of Bellator 185 on Spike drew a live and same-day (Live + SD) average of 476,000 viewers last Friday night. The two-hour, 35-minute broadcast from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., was headlined by the aforementioned Mousasi's contentious unanimous verdict over former Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko in which “The Dreamcatcher” sustained a broken right orbital bone.
The 476,000 Live + SD average is the third worst number for the promotion through 16 Spike broadcasts this year, just besting only Bellator 176 in April, headlined by a middleweight title rematch between Rafael Carvalho and Melvin Manhoef on tape delay from Torino, Italy, and its immediate predecessor, Bellator 184 on Oct. 6 from Thackville, Okla., where Darrion Caldwell captured the bantamweight title from Eduardo Dantas. Bellator 176 averaged 438K, while Bellator 184 did a live and same-day of 437,000.
The event, which began at 9 p.m. ET on Spike, faced stiff competition from other major sports, especially in the coveted measuring stick demographic, viewers age 18 to 49. Game 6 of the MLB American League Championship between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees on Fox Sports 1 drew just shy of a 8.23 million average, while the postgame show by itself, beginning at 11:30 p.m., did 2.48 million viewers. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Cavaliers-Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors-New Orleans Pelicans doubleheader on ESPN drew 1.82 and 2.39 million live averages. These four broadcasts were the top-rated four cable programs on Friday night in the 18-49 demo.
Through its 16 cards on Spike in 2017, Bellator is averaging 669,000 viewers in live and same-day ratings, down from 712,000 last year.
Prior to parent company Viacom hiring Strikeforce founder Scott Coker to replace Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney in June 2014, the promotion had averaged 703,000 live viewers over 37 broadcasts on Spike. In 2015, the first full year under Coker's stewardship, that number jumped to 746,000, before the present downward trend in viewership which has intensified in late 2017, with the last five Bellator MMA broadcasts on Spike drawing less than 600,000 live viewers.