According to some online sources, the UFC’s recent move to FOX Sports 1 has delivered less than stellar results.
UG’s MMALogic reported that Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night prelims had around 270k viewers, with the main card at around 539k. The episode of The Ultimate Fighter that followed clocked in somewhere around 762k.
Those seem like pretty decent numbers, but they were nowhere near as impressive some of the UFC’s broadcasts in the past. For a frame of reference, Bellator’s most recent event also aired that night, and reported 676k viewers.
Never one to stay quiet though, it appears as though UFC president Dana White actually weighed in on the issue on the UG forum thread.
“Disastrous? MMALogic is pretty good but he’s way off on this one,” White wrote. “We were #1 on all of cable with M18-34 and M18-49. We also beat out the US Open and the Detroit vs. Red Sox MLB game. This is all part of the building process. We’ve made a commitment to work with FOX to build this network. If you look at all the other networks we’ve ever been on, we consistently pull strong ratings.”
“The first time we put our prelims on FX, we pulled 880K viewers and it grew, depending on the fight, up to 1.9 million viewers for UFC 156,” he continued. “Also, the TUF season with Carwin and Big Country averged 822K viewers, then Jones vs. Sonnen averaged 1.3 million viewers.”
“We currently hold the top 4 most watched telecasts on FS1 since the network launched. To be honest, our Prelim and Fight Night numbers weren’t bad considering we started on the west coast at 2pm in the afternoon on a Wednesday. The most important thing is last nights fights were awesome and this season of TUF is great.”
“Yes, we didn’t pull 1 million+ but we will. But, we also ****ed up last night by not starting the main event later so that we could get a live lead into TUF. The bottom line is FOX couldn’t be happier with the UFC and the ratings we’re pulling and we couldn’t be happier with the way we have been treated by the network.”
Say what you will about Dana, he knows his stuff. While the UFC is off to a slow start on their new network, those results are hardly disastrous. We’ll have to wait at least a few more months before a really solid picture of the situation emerges.