Bellator 290 Draws Over 1 Million Viewers in Promotion’s Debut on CBS

Ryan Bader and Fedor Emelianenko, Bellator 290
Ryan Bader and Fedor Emelianenko, Bellator 290 Credit: Bellator MMA

Bellator MMA has reasons to be optimistic about their future on broadcast network CBS.

Saturday’s Bellator 290 drew an average of over one million viewers, on a card stacked with two title fights including the retirement of legendary heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko. The broadcast drew in 1,068,000 million viewers (ratings via ShowBuzz Daily), putting it ahead of several college basketball games that aired Saturday, while behind others.

The broadcast drew a 0.67 rating.

Notably, Bellator outdrew a college basketball game on FOX that went to air about 90 minutes beforehand. On the other hand, ABC soundly defeated Bellator’s first card of 2023 with their Saturday night broadcast of NBA basketball, with Dallas vs. Golden State drawing 2.3 million viewers roughly.`

In comparison, the UFC’s debut on ABC brought in just north of 1.2 million viewers in January 2021.

In addition to airing live on CBS, Bellator 290 was also available on streaming platform Paramount+ in the U.S.

In terms of a first outing, the three-fight main card on CBS relied heavily on the star power of Fedor, and heavyweight champ Ryan Bader. Both fighters are essentially household names among fight fans, and Fedor’s legacy had the potential to rope in some casual viewers as well.

The card kicked off with a violent clash between Brennan Ward and Sabah Homasi that certainly got things off on the right foot. That was followed by dominant wrestler Johnny Eblen, undefeated in his MMA career, making his first middleweight title defense against Anatoly Tokov.