Opinion: Is Bellator PPV Already Struggling?
By Michael Hatamoto
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has steadily grown the Bellator brand using mainstream cable TV and weekly MMA tournaments, but must be anxious to see how the promotion’s debut pay-per-view is received on Nov. 2.
The American MMA promotion will host its first PPV event on November 2, and has reportedly sold just 1,700 venue tickets, which could mean it’s going to be a significant bust.
There isn’t much to be expected from the first Bellator PPV, as Rebney, his team, and Viacom will likely take a look to see how they can generate interest in future Bellator events.
The full Bellator PPV fight card:
Pay-Per-View Main Card
Light Heavyweight Feature Fight: Rampage Jackson (32-11) vs. Tito Ortiz (16-11-1)
Lightweight Title Fight: Michael Chandler (12-0) vs. Eddie Alvarez (24-3)
Light Heavyweight Interim Title Fight: King Mo Lawal (11-2) vs. Emanuel Newton (21-7-1)
Featherweight Title Fight: Pat Curran (19-4) vs. Daniel Straus (21-4)
Heavyweight Tournament Finals: Cheick Kongo (19-8) vs. Vinicius Spartan (7-3)
Spike TV Preliminary Fights
Fight Master Welterweight Finals: Joe Riggs (39-14) vs. Mike Bronzoulis (15-5)
Lightweight Feature Fight: Terry Etim (15-5) vs. Patrick Cenoble (9-2)
Featherweight Feature Fight: Mike Richman (15-3) vs. Akop Stepanyan (13-6)
Spike.com Preliminary Fights
Welterweight Feature Fight: Joe Williams (10-3) vs. Jesse Juarez (20-8)
Light Heavyweight Feature Fight: Brandon Halsey (4-0) vs. Hector Ramirez (9-5-1)
Lightweight Feature Fight: Mike Guymon (14-6-1) vs. Aaron Miller (14-8)
Featherweight Feature Fight: Joe Camacho (13-18-3) vs. Cleber Luciano (8-5)
Lightweight Feature Fight: Darren Smith (4-3) vs. Josh Smith (8-5)
Considering some of the names and matchups on the fight card, it honestly isn’t the worst thing you could ask MMA fans to pay for. However, I think Bellator is going to quickly find out that many frequent UFC PPV viewers are only interested in shelling out money for UFC events only.
No one is expecting Bellator to have a flawless transition from weekly cable TV broadcasts to PPV, but not reaching 2,000 paid tickets would be considered a massive failure. Keep in mind, a PPV with a main event of Rampage vs. Tito won’t generate a large number of buys from hardcore MMA fans.
To make matters worse, Bellator, according to an MMAJunkie.com report, has only sold 1,700 tickets and has 3,000 more on consignment, but the Long Beach Convention Center holds 13,500+ attendees. There will need to be extremely clever camera angles and no bright light shown on some of the seats, or it’s going to look pathetic on TV.
If Viacom is serious about promoting Bellator as an international MMA promotion, and wants to compete with the UFC, they need to invest time and resources into marketing Bellator. This debut PPV will be a good baseline for Viacom and Bellator to try and improve in 2014 and beyond, so I will be curious to hear PPV buy numbers.