After a very productive season that saw Bellator showcase an insane amount of great fights and finishes, it appears the promotion will look to continue that momentum with a shift to a weekend time slot. Bellator is set to move their Thursday time to Friday night with the debuting season this fall.
Their ninth season will debut on September 7th, a Saturday, and serve as the season finale for their new fighting-based reality show, “Fight Master,” which will be unveiled next Wednesday. After that, the promotion will continue its regular weekly broadcast on Friday night. This is quite the risky move, but one that Spike TV President Kevin Kay thinks will pay off in spades:
“The Ultimate Fighter on Fridays was doing over a million viewers a week. I’ll take that, and with live fights, I think we’ll do even better. There’s a lot of young men at home across 18-49. Gold Rush on Discovery does 4 million viewers on Friday nights. [The viewers] are there. You just have to give them the right thing and I think live fights on Friday, without competition, is going to be the best place for Bellator.” – via SI.com
This may or may not be the case, but Bellator must come out with a great season to match last year’s success, where they saw their first season on Spike average 862,000 viewers. The show is set to air in the potentially busy 9-11 E.S.T. space. Friday night could go either way for Bellator, as many people go out on the weekends but many also watch fights.
Bellator recently saw a bit of a setback when lightweight tourney winner Dave Jansen was forced to pull out of his planned June 19th title bout against Michael Chandler. Chandler will instead face David Rickels at Bellator 97 in July as part of the three-card Summer Series. After that, Bellator will make its move to the weekend time slot. Will it result in even more exposure for the growing promotion, or will it be a step backwards?