As expected, Bellator 198 saw significant improvement in ratings and viewers from previous shows, but it’s not exactly a huge number.
2018 has not been a very good year for Bellator MMA in terms of ratings and viewership.
Having started out with a respectable average of 770,000 viewers for Bellator 192, the Viacom-owned promotion had its next five cards all fail to clear the 500,000 mark (not including DVR +3). Bellator 197 did a dismal 242,000 on Paramount Network, with a 0.09 rating in the 18-49 demographic.
Would Bellator 198, featuring Fedor Emelianenko and Frank Mir, provide a much-needed boost? The answer is yes, although perhaps not nearly as massive as one may have thought.
Saturday night’s Nielsen ratings have Bellator 198 pulling a 0.22 rating, good for 31st on the night among all cable television broadcasts, with an average viewership of 581,000 viewers on Paramount Network. Peak viewing figures and DVR +3 numbers will be revealed later in the week.
It should also be noted that like 192 and 197, Bellator 198 was simulcast on Country Music Television, which saw an average of 169,000 viewers, not much different from the 161,000 for the other two simulcasts.
Rather surprisingly, the top combat sports card of the night was none of Bellator 198, Top Rank on ESPN (701,000 viewers, 0.20 rating), or PBC on FOX (839,000 viewers, 0.2 rating). HBO Boxing saw Daniel Jacobs vs. Maciej Sulecki attract 810,000 viewers, peaking at 874,000, with a top rating of 0.26. The opening bout between Jarrell Miller and Johann Duhaupas averaged 706,000 and peaked at 834,000.
With Fedor beating Frank Mir, “The Last Emperor” is set for a heavyweight Grand Prix semifinal showdown with Chael Sonnen. Bellator president Scott Coker indicated that it would not be on PPV, so if Fedor vs. Chael isn’t a ratings booster, then that’s a worrisome sign. Bellator 198 did produce the second-largest gate in the promotion’s history, so at least Fedor is still a ticket-seller.
Bellator 199 takes place on May 12th and features a main event between Muhammed Lawal and Ryan Bader in the last heavyweight tournament quarterfinal, but that card is going opposite UFC 224, as well as a partial overlap with Top Rank on ESPN: Lomachenko vs. Linares.