On a rare weekend without a UFC live event, The World Series of Fighting and Bellator both had good news from a ratings standpoint.
WSOF 9 on Saturday night, featuring Rousimar Palhares' 69 second submission win over Steve Carl to capture the company's welterweight title, pulled 242,000 viewers on NBC Sports Network. It was the second best showing the company has done, trailing only an Aug. 10 show, with Tyrone Spong vs. Angel deAnda, that did 264,000 viewers. The average for the nine shows is 201,000 viewers.
NBC Sports averaged 238,000 viewers in prime time the prior week. Prime time numbers for the past week are not yet available. The WSOF numbers would have beaten every show on the station the previous week with the exception of National Hockey League and Premier League soccer coverage.
Bellator also had good news the night before. Its show, headlined by Alexander Shlemenko's submission win over Brennan Ward to retain the middleweight title, did 711,000 viewers that night. That was the second-best number of the season, trailing only the 880,000 viewers for the season opener with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs. Christian M'Pumbu. Including people who later viewed the event through Monday on DVRs, the show did 800,000 viewers, and the main event peaked with 1,030,000 viewers.
The same night number was up 40 percent from the Friday night all-time record low on Spike of 507,000 on March 21, for the Emanuel Newton's light heavyweight title win over Attila Vegh. The five episode season average for same night viewing is 688,000, up slightly from the 666,000 average for the Friday night shows in the fall and winter season.
The Ultimate Fighter Nations episode on Fox Sports 1 on March 26 did 267,000 viewers.
The NCAA Division I wrestling championships the prior week had more widespread television coverage than any such tournament in the past. Every session aired on either ESPN or ESPN U.
The finals on March 22 did 630,000 viewers, a 27 percent drop from last year. That was understandable since last year's finals featured the Kyle Dake vs. David Taylor final at 165 pounds, considered one of the biggest championship finals of all-time. This year's finals had no matches of anywhere near the same magnitude.
The semifinals the night before, with a lot of split-screen coverage of two matches on two mats going on at the same time, did 504,000 viewers. The number was almost identical with the Bellator show taking place at the same time.
Both sessions did well below ESPN's average in prime time for the week of 897,000 viewers.
The tournament was more of a boost to ESPN U. On that station, the battles for third place at 11 a.m. on March 22 did 163,000 viewers. Even with a Saturday morning time slot, it was the second most watched show on the station during the week, and highest live sports event. Early round matches that aired on Thursday, March 20, in prime time, did 137,000 viewers, the fifth highest on the station for the week.