Bellator 96 may have featured one of the promotion’s biggest names in “King Mo” Lawal, and was followed by the series premiere of “Fight Master: Bellator MMA”, but Wednesday night did not prove to be much of  a ratings success for SPIKE.

According to a report from MMA’s Dave Meltzer, Bellator 96 drew 480,000 viewers for the 8-10 PM time slot, which is significantly lower than what the promotion pulled during its first season on SPIKE. Bellator’s Season 8 action averaged just over 800,000 viewers per night, but that was on Thursday nights, after TNA Impact Wrestling aired.

“Fight Master”, Bellator’s new reality show, drew  just over 400,000 viewers for the series debut, which must also be considered a disappointment considering the push the network gave the show (and that it stars the legendary Randy Couture).

SPIKE officials pointed to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the report as a key reason why Wednesday’s ratings were low. David Schwarz, Spike TV’s Senior Vice President of Communications, was quoted saying in the story:

“A lot of hockey fans are MMA fans, and that’s 6.5 million viewers, a few hundred thousand were guys that we were counting on, and that’s what we attribute the low numbers to. We took a big hit with the hockey game.”

The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Boston Bruins that night in overtime to tie the series at two. Predictably, SPIKE is optimistic that ratings will rise for Fight Master and the Bellator “Summer Series” in the coming weeks, and it will be interesting to see if they do without wrestling as a lead in. It should also be noted that Wednesday’s ratings are still much, much higher than how Bellator did when it was airing on MTV 2.

Bellator’s next event goes down July 31st, and will feature lightweight champ Michael Chandler taking on David Rickels, welterweight champion Ben Askren versus Andrey Koreshkov, and Lawal fighting Jacob Noe in the light-heavyweight tourney finale.