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Spike TV's 'Fight Master: Bellator MMA' gains another 24 percent in ratings

After a nearly disastrous start on June 19, Bellator's reality show, Fight Master, has shown strong ratings growth every week for the concept of winning fighters picking their coaches. But with the teams being finalized, the show debuts a new format next week.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Spike TV and Bellator got strong news with yet another significant rise in the viewership of their Fight Master reality show.

The season's third episode, the final one with the theme of winning fighters picking either Greg Jackson, Frank Shamrock, Randy Couture or Joe Warren, as their coach, drew 676,000 viewers. The Wednesday night airing was still below Spike's prime-time average, that hovers between 700,000 and 850,000 viewers. But it was a 24 percent increase in audience over the second show and 56 percent above the initial episode. What makes that even more impressive is the general pattern, based on more than eight years of The Ultimate Fighter, is that the first week's ratings of most seasons are usually the highest, and they then dip the next two weeks before settling in unless there is a special character or match that spikes ratings.

Most of the growth has come in the Male 18-34 demo, which started at a shockingly low 0.3 the first week, grew to a 0.4 the second week, and rose all the day to 0.73 for the third episode.

The rise came even though the weekly momentum would have been hurt by Spike's decision not to air a new episode on July 3, due to the holiday weekend, meaning it had been two weeks between shows.

The episode even beat a few of the lowest rated episodes of Ultimate Fighter when it bottomed out during the Shane Carwin/Roy Nelson season on Friday night's on FX.

The first three episodes featuring the gamesmanship between the coaches in trying to recruit winners, or manipulate less impressive winners to other coaches, was a completely different dynamic from The Ultimate Fighter. The episodes made for strong television as evidenced by significant week-to-week growth.

All the teams have been and now they are down to 16 fighters on four teams, with next week being a completely different format.

In addition, Bellator 360, which aired at 11 p.m., showcasing the greatest knockouts in company history, held most of the audience, doing 575,000 viewers, a strong figure for Spike in that time slot.

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