Well it's been feast or famine for Bellator lately.
After two of the promotion's more exciting events, Bellator 50 and 51 garnered two of the lowest ratings in the promotion's history, Bellator 52, which featured the quarterfinals of the season five heavyweight tournament brought in the series high in ratings. The event peaked with 345,000 viewers, up sharply from just 158,000 last week. On top of that, another 196,000 tuned in for the replay at 1 a.m.
This happened despite not only direct competition from the UFC on Versus 6 event, which aired live at the exact same time, but there was also a title fight on the line for free over on Versus.
And it's not like Bellator was really bringing the heat either. The heavyweight tournament featured two Ultimate Fighter season 10 participants who hadn't even earned a trip to the UFC and several other powerful men with little to no name recognition. Hell, one of the most hyped prospects, Thiago Santos, had to drop out of the tournament due to travel issues from Brazil the week of the event.
This truly is a head scratcher.
Was this just a case of poor promotion by the UFC? We'll compare how this Bellator event stacks up with every other MTV2 broadcast after the jump.
Bellator 52: 345,000 viewers
Bellator 44: 325,000 viewers
Bellator 47: 277,000 viewers
Bellator 45: 264,000 viewers
Bellator 49: 235,000 viewers
Bellator 36: 230,000 viewers
Bellator 48: 226,000 viewers
Bellator 40: 218,000 viewers
Bellator 35: 200,000 viewers
Bellator 42: 199,000 viewers
Bellator 46: 185,000 viewers
Bellator 43: 182,000 viewers
Bellator 39: 174,000 viewers
Bellator 37: 173,000 viewers
Bellator 51: 158,000 viewers
Bellator 38: 150,000 viewers
Bellator 41: 132,000 viewers
Bellator 50: 114,000 viewers
Bellator had previously set a ratings record this past May with the season four lightweight tournament finals which also featured a "superfight" for middleweight champion Hector Lombard. Ratings were strong this offseason with the special featherweight "Summer Series" and things looked great for them when season five debuted with 235,000 viewers.
There was quite a bit of buzz in the immediate fallout of Bellator 51, which featured some sensational matches in the bantamweight tournament quarterfinals. Perhaps fans tuned in to see what Bellator was all about, or perhaps it was a giant fluke.
We'll find out this Saturday night (October 8, 2011) as the promotion airs its welterweight semifinals opposite UFC 136.