Bellator MMA ended an era this past Saturday night as the Viacom-owned promotion held its last card on Paramount Network before moving to the CBS Sports Network in October.
Back-to-back cards on Friday and Saturday were headlined by a light heavyweight rematch between Phil Davis and Lyoto Machida followed by a bantamweight title bout where Juan Archuleta was crowned champion after beating previously undefeated prospect Patrick “Patchy” Mix.
According to the Nielsen Ratings System, Bellator 245 on Friday night averaged 300,000 viewers while landing at No. 76 overall for cable programming. Bellator 246 one night later averaged 335,000 viewers with a No. 62 spot for cable programming on Saturday.
Overall, those two Bellator cards were on average for ratings from the promotion for the rest of the shows so far in 2020.
The highest rated card this year was Bellator 243, which averaged 403,000 viewers with former lightweight champion Michael Chandler facing Benson Henderson in the main event. The lowest rated show of 2020 was Bellator 244, which averaged 275,000 viewers over the course of the broadcast.
A pair of events averaging 300,000 viewers and 335,000 viewers is directly in line with Bellator’s overall ratings for 2020. The seven Bellator cards for the year on Paramount Network averaged just over 313,000 average viewers.
Now that Bellator is leaving the Paramount Network for the CBS Sports Network, the promotion will likely endure some interesting ratings shifts over the next few months.
For one, CBS Sports Network is available in far less homes overall — approximately 20 million less — than Paramount Network, which immediately affects the ratings. Second, Bellator will begin promoting many of their cards on Thursday nights after traditionally airing on Friday on Paramount Network or Spike TV.
Bellator’s move will also bring a close to the dedication Paramount Network and previously Spike TV had to mixed martial arts over the past 15 years. Spike TV served as the first major television home to the UFC when launching The Ultimate Fighter in 2005 followed by a successful partnership for many years until the promotion moved to FOX in 2011.
Bellator MMA soon followed in 2013 and now Paramount will go completely dark for MMA content for the first time in over a decade.
The next Bellator card is scheduled for Oct. 1 on CBS Sports Network.