As expected by most, Bellator NYC/Bellator 180/whatever what have you did not do great PPV numbers, to say the least. For all the bluster and bravado that came from the fighters and Scott Coker himself it seems that this premium outing will do similar numbers to their initial attempt in 2014, with estimates in the 90,000 – 125,000 range. For reference, UFC 213, which lost two headlining fights (one the day of) and a top-10 Welterweight war, Is expected to come in around the top end of those numbers, AT LEAST. No bueno. To make matters a little worse, there was not a ton else going on that weekend. I myself was having a quiet Saturday and decided against purchasing it. Notably, the UFC did not offer up any competition, which in hindsight seems regrettable as they perhaps could have BURIED the Bellator PPV, albeit at the expense of their own event. Bellator’s parent company Viacom is putting on a public smile, saying they’re happy with the number, the “record gate” etc. however I doubt that’s all true.
Getting into the “why” and “what”, in terms of Bellator needs to do in order to improve upon this attempt, is actually pretty simple. Their 2014 PPV was just the best of their b-level talent plus the name brand of Quintin “Rampage” Jackson. That was never going to work. This time they relied upon their new strategy of having a good portion of the draw of their cards be either veteran and/or purely intriguing names, from Matt Mitrione and Fedor Emelianenko to the billed “best MMA prospect ever” wrestling maven Aaron Pico who was soundly defeated in his MMA debut. This strategy, although a solid one for garnering Spike TV numbers, is not going to work as a growth enabler or PPV seller. Intrigue only goes so far. I’ll change the channel to watch intrigue, not drop 50 bucks. What Bellator needs to do is what they finally have been doing: signing top-tier fighters. The only way to compete with UFC is to do just that – truly, straight up, compete. However I don’t expect they will ever go with that strategy alone and that’s why I don’t ever see them winning the battle.