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Mixed bag and major lesson highlight busy television weekend

There was more bad than good, and a major lesson told, when it came to ratings on a week where both UFC and Bellator ran two shows each, including one head-to-head.

The bad included both companies doing record lows. The UFC did its lowest prime-time number on FS 1 in history with 399,000 viewers on average for the Friday night finals of The Ultimate Fighter, headlined by Kamaru Usman’s decision win over Rafael dos Anjos.

Bellator on Saturday did an experiment, airing a European show live, instead of on a tape delay in prime time. The show from Genoa, Italy, which aired starting at 4 p.m. E.T., headlined by Kent Kauppinen’s knockout win over Alessio Sakara, did 207,000 viewers. It was the lowest same-day total for a Bellator event on Spike or Paramount in history, and along the lines of the numbers the promotion got in its infancy on MTV 2.

Bellator and Spike/Paramount had been under criticism for years for airing the European shows on tape in prime time, feeling with social media, a sports event needed to air live. But it’s clear that the majority of viewers would be more willing to watch a taped show in a usual time slot as opposed to a live show in the afternoon.

Spike’s most recent taped shows, the Nov. 15 event from Tel Aviv, Israel, which aired one night later, and a July 14 show from Rome, Italy, which aired on a several hour tape delay, drew 381,000 and 391,000 same-day viewers respectively. Granted, both of those shows did have stronger lineups, with featherweight champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire defending his title against Emmanuel Sanchez in Israel and Daniel Weichel in Italy, but that wasn’t going to make the level of difference to nearly double the viewership of what

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