Spike's and Bellator's 'Fight Master' ratings improve in week two

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The second episode of Fight Master on Wednesday night saw the audience up 26 percent to 545,000 viewers. While still less than the station average, it did buck the normal trend where the second week of MMA reality show usually drop from the season opener.

The second episode of Fight Master on Wednesday night saw viewers increase 26 percent from the first week premiere, with the show doing a 0.4 rating and 545,000 viewers.

The number is hardly a major success given Spike's prime time average rating for the prior week was 700,000 viewers and this is first-run original programming. Still, this has to be somewhat welcome given the first episode only did 432,000 viewers, which Spike executives blamed on the NHL playoffs.

The big gain of 54 percent came in males 18-34, in what has been the target demographic for MMA fans historically, although it was still only a 0.4.

The audience was still stronger in the 35-49 age group, which has been the case with all MMA programming as the first legion of fans, who started young with the sport in 2005, have gotten older and the people who have moved into the 18-34 age group aren't replenishing them at anywhere near the same numbers.

It is also almost unheard of historically when it came to The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) for the second week not to significantly drop from the first week of a season, which is why the opening numbers were so scary.

Spike had heavily promoted the first show, which got good reviews that didn't translate into ratings. They replayed the episode numerous times during the week, including the hour before and after its pro wrestling franchise on Thursday.

The episode was the second of three weeks where the fighters choose their coaches from Frank Shamrock, Greg Jackson, Joe Warren and Randy Couture. Thus far the coaches have been the stars of the show because of four very different personalities involved.

Shamrock and Warren have come across as the stars, with Shamrock as the manipulator, constantly playing mind games, in a cerebral rivalry with Jackson. Warren comes across as the most enthusiastic, but the former world champion wrestler has less experience in the sport and in coaching than the other three. He constantly tries to sell himself that he's the only one of the four who has competed and won a championship in Bellator.

Couture and Jackson are more laid back. Both head two of the most successful camps in the sport, yet, in a shocker, after two weeks, it is Shamrock and Warren who have convinced more fighters to join their squads.

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