In 2020, MLW Fusion on beIN Sports averaged about 10,500 viewers for its first-run telecasts, up 38% from 7,600 in 2019, according to Nielsen data.
Fusion also aired on beIN Sports Español throughout 2019 and the early part of 2020. If you add the Spanish language network average to the English language beIN Sports average for Fusion, the average comes to 9,400 for the year.
So far in 2021, Fusion has averaged 4,200 viewers, down 60% from last year’s average. The decline coincides with beIN’s decreasing U.S. household coverage. The network was already in a small minority of cable homes, and has fallen from being in about 16 million homes in 2019 to 10 million as of August 2021.
For comparison, the USA Network (home of WWE Raw) and TNT (home of AEW Dynamite) are in virtually every cable home in the U.S., about 80 million households.
As the MLW “Fightland” special airs tonight on VICE at 10 pm, the promotion will likely be seen by its biggest TV audience ever. VICE is in 60 million to 70 million homes, much wider coverage than beIN. And Fightland will have a lead-in from Dark Side of the Ring, which was watched by 126,000 and 214,000 viewers each of the last two weeks.
The most highly-viewed first-run telecast of MLW Fusion on beIN Sports was watched by about 27,000 viewers on January 25, 2020. Viewership in 18 to 49 for that episode was 8,500.
Peak for viewers 18 to 49 was on October 5, 2019, measuring at 13,800 viewers in the demo, about a 0.01 demo rating.
First-run of the most recent episode on Saturday, measured at just 48 viewers.
With these many data points to look at, it’s clear viewership was under 30,000, at least for first-run telecasts. That’s small compared to even Impact Wrestling. On AXS TV, in about 40 million or roughly half of cable homes, usually manages to have more than 100,000 viewers.
It’s hard to read too much into the trends for MLW on beIN, especially in the more segmented demos that you’ll find in our spreadsheet for subscribers. As always, Nielsen viewership data are based on a sample extrapolated onto the larger population.
Replays, which we don’t have data for, adds to MLW’s viewership on beIN. Most weeks, the replay of Fusion at midnight or later outperformed the first-run, according to MLW CEO Court Bauer.
“I’m not sure if it was the bar crowd coming home or watching MLW after a big MMA or boxing fight ended or what,” Bauer told us.
Fusion aired on beIN Sports on Friday night at 8 pm Eastern from May 4, 2018 to February 8, 2019. It then moved to Saturdays at 9 pm beginning February 16. Beginning March 21, 2020, the Saturday time slot was moved to 10 pm.
Fusion also aired on beIN Sports Español on Tuesdays at midnight, from October 2, 2018 to January 29, 2019. And from February 11, 2019 to March 16, 2020, it aired on Mondays, mostly at midnight. The program didn’t air on that network after March 16, 2020.
“beIN has been a good partner and we’re now in our third deal with them as we outperform most of their other programming,” Bauer said. “The big soccer games still crush.”
Soccer is indeed beIN’s leading programming if Showbuzz Daily’s top 150 cable originals listings are any indication. Mostly telecasts on the beIN Sports Español channel make the list, which have been watched by as many as 343,000 viewers and a 0.14 demo rating for the Real Madrid vs. Barcelona match on April 5 this year. That game did an additional 152,000 viewers and 0.06 in the demo simultaneously on the English language network.
Even as MLW works with VICE, the wrestling company will continue airing its Fusion program on beIN as well as other platforms the show is currently distributed on. Bauer says additional programming on beIN is being considered, as well.
“We’re talking about expanding [on beIN Sports] with an MLW Challengers series. It would be 30 minutes, filmed in Miami. Possibly live. TBD. My goal is always to put eyes on the series, plus rights fees. So, that’s why we don’t just do beIN for Fusion. We do Fubo Sports Network, YouTube, Roku Channel, beIN, beIN Español, etc.”
Lavie Margolin contributed to this article.