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Why is Spike TV giving deference to TNA over Bellator?

By Zach Arnold | May 8, 2013

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The quick and dirty: TNA’s move from 9 PM-11 PM to 8-10 PM has not changed ratings for the better. TNA viewers turn in at 9 PM, not 8 PM. TNA is the quintessential ‘treadmill promotion’ — a promotion that is constantly moving but never moving forwards or backwards. It always remains in place no matter how much energy is exerted.

TNA from 8 PM to 10 PM acted as the lead-in for Bellator on Thursday nights (10 PM-Midnight). Spike TV is reportedly going to move TNA back to 9 PM-11 PM. This means Bellator is likely going to get moved from Thursday nights to another night on the network.

Spike TV isn’t the primary owner of TNA. They own Bellator. And, yet, TNA remains a bigger concern for the network?

So, what night will Spike TV move Bellator to?

By process of elimination, days that are likely out of the question: Sunday (wrestling PPVs, NFL), Monday (WWE, big sporting events), Wednesdays (UFC on Fox Sports 1), Thursdays (TNA time change), Saturday (fight PPVs, college football).

That leaves us with Tuesdays or Fridays. Tuesdays makes the most sense, by far, and might be a good spot for Bellator to get a chance to have the night to their own on Spike. The one drawback is that they won’t have a TNA lead-in, but I don’t know how big of a deal it is. Fridays… ask UFC how that went on a network like FX. Fridays would not be as awful as Saturday night on MTV2 but… that would be a really revealing move by Spike in regards to how they view Bellator and where MMA stands right now in terms of priorities.

Topics: Bellator, Media, MMA, Zach Arnold | 14 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

14 Responses to “Why is Spike TV giving deference to TNA over Bellator?”

  1. Jeff says:

    It’s pretty simple–MMA is a dying sport. The UFC can’t draw flies so why would Spike want to waste more money on the #2 promotion in a sport that will eventually go the way of arena football and indoor soccer?

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Nobody has “wasted more money” than Spike has when it comes to TNA, a virtual money pit that has contributed very little since its existence in the pro-wrestling business.

      At least with Bellator you have a shot of promoting new fighters and talent. Bellator isn’t a brand with a dead or non-existent ceiling like TNA.

    • RST says:

      “It’s pretty simple–MMA is a dying sport”

      Hopefully. I’d feel warmer, and more comfortable if it where. (What is my alternative? floyd maynot?)

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    No matter what you think of TNA…. It is their most successful show right now.

    Bellator was averaging 60% of their audience, which was horrible. You have to figure that a decent percentage of MMA fans just tuned in at 10pm to watch Bellator, which means SpikeTV’s experiment of taking the TNA audience and converting them to a Bellator audience was a failure. It also shows Bellator probably cannot get solid ratings on their own night without a 1.5 Million Viewer lead-in that TNA gave them.

    Tuesdays will kill an sort of gate Bellator was hoping to get. It wil be hard enough for the UFC to get a Wednesday night crowd into the arenas. Tuesday will be far worse for the smaller organization.

    Overall, I think what this shows is that Bellator was not a home run for SpikeTV like they were hoping.

    If ratings don’t pick up over the next year, you have to wonder how long SpikeTV is willing to waste time, energy, and money with a sport that is only getting them 750,000 or so viewers (and maybe less if they have their own night). Not to mention all of the legal costs it is going to take to try to even have a chance of not being the UFC feeder system….

    SpikeTV went all in and are quickly learning it was the UFC who was successful at MMA, not SpikeTV.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      I wonder if there is a real internal conflict at Spike/Viacom over Bellator.

      On one hand, you have the legal headaches with the Ken Pavia & Eddie Alvarez cases. Viacom has plenty of attorneys sitting around waiting to do something to justify getting paid, so I don’t think the legal headaches are necessarily a problem for them.

      On the other hand, you have a network more concerned about a no-growth pro-wrestling product over a company they had to probably spend a lot of cash in acquiring (Bellator) just in the last year or so. They want to move Bellator to protect a wrestling show and had the King Mo experiment going as well. Plus, Randy Couture as the ‘face’ of their new reality show with Frank Shamrock & Greg Jackson. And yet they don’t want to keep the TNA lead-in?

      Do they even have a strategy or philosophy at this point?

      • 45 Huddle says:

        Typically in the TV world… a successful show has a good game plan before the next season. For example, Game of Thrones was renewed after 1 episode this season. And yet there are shows on network TV that still don’t know if they will be on next season. Why? Because they have poor ratings.

        Even with TUF…. they knew there would be another season…. but did not know on what station. Why? Because it is not a huge hit right now.

        We don’t know exactly what is happening behind the seasons… but the fact that their #1 show (TNA) is moving times… And Bellator is being scattered across different days and times… means they do not like the results of the last 4 months. You don’t make changes like that if things are a success.

        We are either going to see them sign guys like Rampage to huge money deals to try and turn the ship around (throw more money at a bad investment) or just let it run its course and cut their losses.

        If Showtime taught us anything with the FMJ PPV Flop… It is that you can spend tons of money… but unless you have the right people steering that ship…. you are going to fail. And for boxing the only true success if HBO. And for MMA it is the UFC.

  3. Chris says:

    TNA still does better ratings but I understand what you mean, if they really get behind Bellator the potential to grow is bigger than TNA.

    Both are always gonna be distant seconds to the UFC/WWE but Bellator if pushed right could pass TNA.

    I agree about being on Tues but I think Wed is def possible. They are on Wed now in the summer to test it out, if it works they could keep it in the fall.

    Yes I know the UFC is on Wed but how many events will they do during a Bellator season? One a month? 3 live events during a Bellator season, TUF wont come on till 10pm, bellator could run 8-10 and be done before TUF.

    yes during the days they share events with the UFC they would be crushed in the media leading up to the fight, nobody is gonna pay attention to Bellator when a UFC is on but the other weeks they could be ok.

    Tues makes the most sense but if they do well on Wed maybe they keep it in the fall.

  4. frankp316 says:

    The problem is with TNA, not with Bellator. TNA has taken a lot of cost cutting measures this year including cutting back to 4PPVs. They decided to leave Orlando to go on the road. But they are taping two shows in one night. The first show ran live at 8PM and then they taped the second show for next week. They found the show was running too late and fans were getting tired. So as of May 30, they won’t even run live anymore. They will start the first show at 7PM and run it at 9PM. And they will still tape the second show for next week. They just want the live show to end earlier as they were getting complaints. And knowing that TNA is having financial problems, Spike is just trying to help them out. And some viewers were unhappy with Bellator starting at 10PM on a week night.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Yes, but as Zach pointed out…. Viacom owns Bellator….

      If Bellator was in any sort of way a success, they wouldn’t be trying to please TNA at all. But Bellator was a semi-flop, which is why they still need to cater to TNA….

      Bellator preview shows tanked. Their replays of their events tanked. Their live shows lost a huge chunk of the lead-in and showed no really progress throughout the season.

      Whether viewers were upset with Bellator starting at 10pm doesn’t matter. If they get moved to a different night, they lose the lead-in and will probably be doing 650,000 to 750,000 every week. And then they will be gone.

      • cutch says:

        TNA had a “PPV” last night over here in the UK, they filmed a bunch to fill out International commitments and tried to give Spike them but they obviously didn’t want them so are selling them cheap

      • frankp316 says:

        They don’t seem as concerned about the ratings as you are. You’re barking up the wrong tree.

  5. Hans Thompson says:

    The next Bellator is on a Wednesday (June 19) – do they normally do that for the Summer Series?

    • frankp316 says:

      No but Spike has to move Bellator because of TNA’s time slot change to 9PM Thursday. I don’t think a decision about Bellator’s time slot has been made yet.

  6. zack says:



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