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Tag: UFC ratings

Are Events Like UFC Fight Night 32 Why the UFC’s Popularity is Suffering?


(It’s almost 2014. Dan Henderson and Vitor Belfort are still main-eventing UFC cards. / photo via Getty)

By Matt Saccaro

Cards like UFC Fight Night 32 are contributing to the death of MMA’s popularity in the US.

In case you haven’t noticed, the UFC’s numbers have been atrocious lately. UFC 165, a card headlined by the light heavyweight champion of the world and future of the company Jon Jones, drew a paltry 325,000 buys. Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos III—the finale to the greatest trilogy in UFC heavyweight history—drew a slightly higher number at UFC 166.

The UFC has had woes on free television too. TUF is regularly breaking the wrong kinds of records. And the ratings on FOX Sports 1 have been inconsistent at best. They started strong with a tremendous 1.7 million (back to 2011 Spike TV levels) for UFC Fight Night 26, dropped 54% to 824,000 viewers for UFN 27, fell a further 35% to 539,000 for UFN 28, rose to 638,000 for 29, and stayed at that level for the next fight night card on FOX Sports 1, UFC Fight Night 31 (a.k.a. UFC Fight for the Troops 3).

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Numbers Confirm That WAY More People Receive FOX Sports 1 Than FUEL TV

Dana White Fertittas Brock Lesnar Lorenzo Frank III MMA photos funny
(That awkward moment when you realize you jumped ship way, way too soon.)

I imagine that after receiving the ratings numbers for Fight Night 26: Shogun vs. Sonnen this morning, Dana White calmly asked everyone to get the fuck out of his office, closed the door, threw on some Rage and did the following…

It would be hard to blame him if he did, because early figures for the UFC’s debut on the FOX Sports 1 network are nothing short of astounding. According to a press release sent out this morning, Saturday’s main card at the TD Garden averaged over 1.7 million viewers, shattering the UFC’s previous FUEL ratings like they were Corey Hill’s leg:

FOX Sports 1, driven by UFC FIGHT NIGHT: SHOGUN VS. SONNEN, posted an average audience of 1.71 million viewers in prime time (8:00-11:00 PM ET), a more than 10-fold increase compared to that which SPEED, FOX Soccer and FUEL TV combined to deliver on the comparable night a year ago (141,000). Among younger demographics the comparisons are even more significant. FOX Sports 1 viewership was over 25 times greater than SPEED/FOX Soccer/FUEL TV among both Adults 18-49 and Men 18-49, and 40 times greater among Adults 18-34 and M18-34. 

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‘TUF 17 Finale’ Draws 1.7 Million Viewers for Highest Rated FX Finale Yet


(Cat Zingano’s emotional entrance that was sadly cut from the FX broadcast. “The fights that will silence WMMA detractors,” indeed.)  

Just a quick update on the TUF 17 Finale, which continued with the recent trend of steadily rising UFC events to air on the FX network this past weekend. Whether it was the lure of seeing Uriah Hall cement his status as “The nastiest guy in TUF History” (Spoiler Alert: He didn’t.), the promise of the next challenger to Ronda Rousey’s throne, or the chance to catch a good old fashioned throwdown between two of the WEC’s finest, the TUF 17 Finale was a clear success all the way from the quality of the fights themselves to the ratings numbers the event was able to draw in. MMAJunkie’s John Morgan passed along the numbers via Twitter:

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‘UFC 157′ Ratings Update: Rousey and Carmouche Prove That Girls Can In Fact Run This Motha


(And the song Ronda chose to accompany this momentous occasion with? Oh, you best believe it was some Geto Boys. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.) 

Of all the controversy that was brought to light in the weeks following the announcement of UFC 157 (WOMEN HEADLINERS?!, Dan Henderson playing second fiddle to WOMEN HEADLINERS?!, etc.), one issue that seemed to cling around more than most was that of pay-per-view buys. Specifically, how the UFC honestly expected a card featuring WOMEN HEADLINERS to draw diddly squat for viewers in the male-dominated sport of MMA. Because if we wanted to see two broads fight over a leather and gold belt, we’d go to Macy’s on Black Friday, amiright?

Well, we hate to spoil the misogynist fantasy, but it looks like WMMA (or at least Ronda Rousey) could turn out to be a huge draw for the UFC. The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer spoke earlier today about the preliminary PPV estimates for UFC 157 and suffice it to say, they are a lot better than many of us would have predicted:

Over 400,000….they’re absolutely thrilled. The show, it was…they had predicted 250. Budgeted 250, I shouldn’t say predicted. But I mean, the predictions internally were 250-300. So they blew away their predictions, big time…They’re expecting big replay buys. Big replay buys means 25,000-30,000 more than they have right now. It could do mid fours, maybe more, but that’s a nice number to say.

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Ratings Update: UFC 156 Prelims Set Record Numbers, Epic KO Fails to Boost TUF 17


(“I’LL ASK YOU ONE MORE TIME, JAY, WHO TATTOOED THIS AFFLICTION SHIRT TO YOUR BACK?!”) 

If the first month is any indication, 2013 is going to be a good year for MMA. There hasn’t been a significant injury in weeks (sorry Patricky), title fights are almost starting to make sense, and on top of it all, the UFC’s primetime ratings are slowly beginning their climb out of the abyss. Throw in the fact that Bruce Buffer’s upcoming autobiography is all but a shoe-in for a Pulitzer and we are left with little to complain about. It feels…good.

So before we jinx ourselves, let’s get to the great news regarding the preliminary portion of UFC 156, which was able to pull in record numbers during its run on FX last Saturday despite the fact that it featured several debuting fighters and not a lot of name power. As MMAFighting’s Dave Meltzer reports:

Saturday’s UFC 156 prelims drew 1,897,000 viewers, topping the previous UFC on FX record of 1,860,000 viewers set two weeks earlier for the Vitor Belfort vs. Michael Bisping card from Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The number was a huge increase from the prelims on FX on Jan. 26 before the FOX network special from Chicago’s United Center which did 1,208,000 viewers.

The largest previous audience on FX for prelims before a big show came on July 7 when theUFC 148 prelims did 1.8 million viewers. But that was to be expected, since there was more interest in UFC on that day with the Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen middleweight title rematch than any day over the past two years. 

After almost ten minutes of research, we have determined that there are only two real explanations for the UFC’s sudden viewership jump:

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‘UFC on FOX 6′ Ratings Update: Flyweights Pull Strong Numbers, Fall Just Short of Henderson vs. Diaz


(The average new viewer tuned in for 5 minutes and 54 seconds before realizing they weren’t watching ‘America’s Best Dance Crew.’ Photo via Tracy Lee/Cagewriter.)

For those of you who thought that the UFC’s decision to headline a FOX card with 125-pounders was promotional suicide, it’s time to eat some crow. According to the final ratings numbers, UFC on FOX 6: Johnson vs. Dodson drew an average of 4.4 million viewers last Saturday, peaking at 5.2 million viewers for the flyweight championship main event. That’s only a slight decrease from the viewership of the last FOX card, which attracted 4.4 million average viewers with a peak of 5.7 million for the Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz lightweight title fight.

Judging from the data here and here, Johnson vs. Dodson’s 5.2 million viewer peak would place it around #13 on the list of the most-watched MMA fights of all time in the United States. It’ll be interesting to see how the next UFC on FOX event on April 20th stacks up, as it features a returning star in Benson Henderson — and an excellent heavyweight feature adding weight to the main card — but won’t benefit from the frequent promos during NFL broadcasts that UFC on FOX 6 received.

For a quick comparison of the average viewerships for each UFC on FOX card so far, check out the numbers after the jump…

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‘UFC on FOX 5′ Ratings Update: Henderson vs. Diaz Was the Ninth Most Watched MMA Fight of All Time in the U.S.; Kimbo Still Reigns Supreme


(Well, you can’t say he didn’t warn you. / Photo courtesy of Getty Images. Click for full-size version.)

According to a Yahoo! Sports report, Saturday’s UFC on FOX 5 broadcast averaged 4.4 million viewers, with viewership climbing steadily through the night until it peaked at a hearty 5.7 million sets of eyeballs for the main event of Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz.

Although total viewership still fell short of the first two UFC on FOX offerings, the 4.4 million average for “Henderson vs. Diaz” nearly doubled the audiences of the last two FOX broadcasts, which both averaged just 2.4 million viewers apiece. More importantly, “Henderson vs. Diaz” was television’s most-watched broadcast on Saturday night among males 18-34, males 18-49, adults 18-34, and adults 18-49. As Dana White told Yahoo!: “We just killed it. We killed it in every demo.”

The ratings performance was also enough to clinch Henderson vs. Diaz as the ninth most-watched MMA fight of all time in the United States. Four years ago, the top ten list was dominated by Kimbo Slice — and not much has changed since then. Here’s Dave Meltzer with an update on MMAFighting.com (number rankings added for clarity):

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Counter-Point: The UFC’s Ratings on FX Aren’t a Disaster, And Here’s Why


(Struggling towards victory in the middle of a barren wasteland — an apt metaphor for Friday-night television, if you think about it.)

 By Oliver Chan

“With all due respect to Spike…  Mr. Hill, Mr. Shanks, and I have 50 gross rating points and promotions in the cushions of our couches.”  - President of FX, John Landgraf, on the performance of TUF on Spike (8/18/11)

There’s a lot to be said about the declining ratings of The Ultimate Fighter since the move to FX and rightfully so. FX has yet to see the same success as TUF had when it was on Spike. However, as John Landgraf pointed out during the August 2011 press conference announcing the deal with the UFC and Fox, Spike simply does not hold a candle to the ratings delivery that FX gets. When you compare the numbers on a national level, he’s right.

Just take a look at the Nielson Prime-time numbers from 3Q11:


(Click to enlarge)

Comparing the two networks, FX has an increase of the 18-34 and 18-49 demos on both impressions delivered as well as the ratings share over Spike. It’s also important to realize that according to the Cable Advertising Bureau, Spike is available in close to 99 million homes, where FX is in just over 97 million.  In other words, FX still manages to attract move viewers, despite being in less than 2 million homes than Spike.

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‘UFC on FX 5: Browne vs. Bigfoot’ Prelims Draw a Staggeringly Low 44,000 Viewers

(Where the hell do y’all think you’re going?! Please, I’m begging you, if you stick around, I’ll even break out the Techno Viking dance!) 

We can’t wait to see how Dana White tries to spin this one.

The numbers were just released for all of last weekend’s UFC events. The good news: The main FX card did pretty well and the fourth episode of The Ultimate Fighter hit a seasonal high in terms of viewership (take that with a grain of salt). The bad news: The FUEL prelims were caught by less people than the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee prelims on ESPN 3. Probably.

You see, last Friday’s FUEL prelims only managed to draw in 44,000 viewers, absolutely shattering the promotion’s previous FUEL prelim low of 84,000 for UFC on FX 3. If these kind of numbers do not improve, the UFC won’t have to worry about emerging victorious from a ratings war with the WWE because they will be too busy trying to compete with the Punkin Chunkin people. We expect DW to start lobbing insults at “those four-eyed f*cking scumbag f*cks on the Lience Channel” any day now.

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CagePotato Open Discussion: Is the UFC Over-Saturating Its Market?


(A stranglehold on the competition, or on the sport in general?) 

We don’t know about you, but as we were watching last weekend’s UFC on FX 3 event in our various states of drunken stupor, we couldn’t help but notice a few glaring observations. The first was that the term “dicknailed” will always be both appropriate and hilarious when describing knockouts like the one Mike Pyle delivered on Josh Neer in the first round of their welterweight affair. The second revelation, however, was much more disheartening. As we looked past the fighters and into the stands, it was pretty shocking to see how little of a crowd was actually in attendance. “What is this, a Super Fight League card?” we said to ourselves, then collectively tweeted to one another like a bunch of snickering high school girls. But the simple truth is, our Stalter and Waldorf attitudes were nothing more than a defense mechanism, a cover, if you will, for something we feared might be happening: The UFC is stretching themselves a little thin.

Sure, UFC on FX 3 was as under-promoted as it was lacking any sort of star power, so much so that I will personally admit to all but completely forgetting about its existence until BG reminded us why we should be stoked in the first place. And sure, as with this season of The Ultimate Fighter, the fact that the card was scheduled for a Friday night surely didn’t help gain any new viewers either (a move that should most certainly be retracted next season if TUF ever hopes to recover ratings wise). Be that as it may, the real problem with last weekend’s card was certainly not that of the fight quality (because they were all great fights), but rather part of the looming, aforementioned oversaturation problem the UFC may find themselves facing. And here’s why.

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