Will Bellator’s move back to Friday night be a success?

Bellator MMA will once again be on a different night of the week as the organization wants to get away from competition from the NFL on Thursday nights and will move to Friday nights in the fall.

Image courtesy of Daniel Dahlback
Daniel Dahlback – The MMA Report

Spike TV President Kevin Kay told Loretta Hunt of Sports Illustrated about the decision to move Bellator back to Fridays during a special screening of Fight Master in Los Angeles on Monday.

Bellator’s fall season will begin with a show on September 7th, which is a Saturday and will be the live finale of Fight Master.

After that event, Bellator will move to Friday nights and the main card broadcast will run from 9 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET.

Bellator MMA Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney did an interview with Bleacher Report yesterday and cited the fact that he believes the audience for NFL games and Bellator is the same. However, if the UFC decides that Friday night is not a good night for them, why should we believe Friday night will be a good night for Bellator?

After it was announced that Bellator would be moving to Friday night, the majority of commentary on social media was negative about the move. For some MMA fans, the move to Friday night will be a good thing because they are unable to stay up until midnight on a Thursday evening to watch a live fight card.

By the time season nine is here, Bellator will have been on Friday, Thursday and Wednesday nights in the past twelve months. As one of my followers on Twitter said to me, “how many time changes has that been total for them? Hard to keep a fan base like that.”

Lets rewind right now and go back to December of last year. It was on December 11th that Spike TV and Bellator held a media conference call to announce that season eight of Bellator would be on Thursday nights. During the conference call, Kay was asked why the decision was made to move from Friday to Thursday. Kay said it was a no brainer and Friday’s are a tough place to be.

“I think the move from Friday to Thursday is a little bit of a no brainer for us because its the exact right time slot and we believe when we launched the other promotion behind WWE, we saw a lot of comparability between wrestling fans and MMA fans,” Kay said last December. “The wrestling lead in, the impact lead in and quite frankly impact is on fire right now. I think as soon as football is done on Thursday nights, there ratings are going to drive right back up and they are creatively in a good place so we think its a perfect lead in. We think Thursday nights is a great place to be. Friday’s are a tough place to be. We were only on Fridays because that’s the place MTV2 had for us. They need us on Friday nights. It’s certainly not a perfect time slot but we believe Thursday’s is.”

If moving to Thursday was a “no brainer” and Friday is a “tough place to be,” then why move back to Friday? Only Kay and Rebney have the answer to this question.

In this reporters opinion, Bellator is starting to have a problem with consistency in their television product. It has nothing to do with the level of fights on the main cards or even the pacing of broadcast. The major issue Bellator has with their television product is fans knowing when it’s going to be on.

Do you know that Bellator returns in seven days to kick off the 2013 Summer Series? They will be on Wednesday night next week and the main card broadcast will start at 7 p.m. ET. Did you know that? Did you think they would be on Thursday night at 10 p.m. ET for Summer Series?

Time will tell if the decision to move back to Friday nights was the best move for Spike TV and Bellator. In six months from now, will we be talking about Bellator being on a new night? For Bellator’s sake, lets hope that is not the case.