By just about any metric GLORY 22 was a great event, both on paper and in execution. The Lightweight tournament featured some of the best and brightest in the Lightweight division and we walked away with Josh Jauncey looking like he's going to be a major player in the division for years and Sitthichai looking like he's marching to becoming a long-reigning champion. We also got some patented Zack Mwekassa violence and then we got to see Rico Verhoeven and Benjamin Adegbuyi stand toe-to-toe with Verhoeven walking away as champion still.
The issue, of course, came with GLORY 22 taking place in France. GLORY's main television contract is with Spike TV in the United States and while GLORY 22 did air on Spike UK, it aired on Saturday, when more people could be watching. One of the big complaints about past GLORY events emenating from Europe have been that Spike TV airs them on tape delay, which in a modern, internet-feuled age is liken to a form of self-sabotage. Spoilers are real and sporting events that you can DVR through the slower parts tend to lose the level of excitement that they bring when airing live. So Spike TV was going to make the "right" decision by airing GLORY 22 live. The problem here is that Spike TV opted not to air a replay of the event later on in the evening.
The number being reported by SportsTVRatings is 152,000 viewers. This is of course excluding any possible DVR viewers that came afterwards, but is the raw, live number from Friday afternoon. It is, without a doubt, the lowest number that we've seen for GLORY programming on Spike TV. We spoke to GLORY officials who confirmed that while choosing France as the venue was their decision, when it aired on Spike TV was not under their control. GLORY was thrilled at the idea of airing the event live, but had begged for a replay later on in the evening due to 4pm Eastern and live at 1pm Pacific on a Friday seeming like suicide.
One has to wonder why a network with the experience that Spike TV has with live combat sports and who seems dedicated to their Friday block of combat sports programming would make such an odd error. Spike TV has experience with the UFC, Bellator, professional boxing and now kickboxing to know how a show will fare at certain times and even the uninitiated saw 4pm Eastern as a bad time on a Friday. I have some serious questions here that there don't seem to be answers for as of press time and am starting to wonder if Spike has soured on the idea of partnering with GLORY or they are perhaps even looking to purchase the brand and "rehabilitate it" much like they did with Bellator years ago.
GLORY 22 was a very, very good show that any combat sports fan should go out of their way to see. It's starting to look like Spike might not be overly enthralled with the brand that is still in its embryonic stages and if that is so, let's hope that GLORY does find a more commited partner in the future.