Saturday’s Super Bowl weekend UFC event from Houston, despite not offering much from a marquee standpoint, did excellent ratings on FS1.
The main card, headlined by a fight between Dennis Bermudez and a returning “Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung, averaged 1.158 million viewers, the biggest viewership for UFC on the cable network in the last year.
It was the highest rated show since last year’s Super Bowl weekend show which was originally intended to be a pay-per-view card but was moved to FS1 when the original main event of Fabricio Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez fell through. Stephen Thompson making short work of Johny Hendricks ended up headlining the show.
Viewership peaked at 1.286 million for the Ovince St-Preux vs. Volkan Oezdemir fight that ran from about 11:00-11:30 p.m. ET.
The preliminary card, which ran from 8-10 p.m. ET did 834,000 viewers and also lacked any major names with Curtis Blaydes vs. Adam Milstead closing out that portion of the event.
Strong ratings for this show could indicate that placement of fight cards and the promotional vehicle behind it can often be more important than the star power on the show.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: There are a couple of lessons that can be taken from this show. First is that if they have the Fox promotion during football season, UFC can draw a lot of eyeballs to their shows, even if they don’t have any big stars on the card. Considering the success of the last two Super Bowl weekend shows, UFC may be best to keep it as a weekend for a TV card rather than a pay-per-view. They’ve done well on pay-per-view on Super Bowl weekend in the past, but on occasions when they’ve had a weak card, buys may have suffered due to being overshadowed by the Super Bowl. Now Fox is only going to air the Super Bowl every three years, but they will still have the conference finals to promote an event for Super Bowl weekend.
The second lesson I take from this is that while it’s clear people were willing to tune in for the card, they weren’t willing to watch right to the end. This could be due to lack of interest in the main event, or because the show ran too late. UFC is missing out on opportunities to make stars if people are tuning out before the main events. I’ve long been an advocate for UFC starting their main cards earlier and/or making sure they end before midnight eastern as there has been a pattern of TV cards peaking at or before midnight often. UFC’s fan base has aged since they exploded in popularity a decade ago and don’t seem as willing to stay up late unless it’s a special fight. In his weekly “Media & Business” column on MMATorch.com, Robert Vallejos makes a case for UFC to utilize Sundays while the NFL is off and to end cards earlier as well. I would go as far as to consider a permanent move to Sunday nights for TV cards even during football season and use the NFL as a strong lead-in. The only downside to that would be going head to head with Sunday Night Football on NBC.
WEDNESDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-ONE Championship fighter Casey Suire died in a motorcycle accident in Bali on Sunday. The promotion shared the sad news via a Facebook post on Tuesday.
-Fabricio Werdum vs. Ben Rothwell has been added to UFC 211 underneath the Stipe Miocic vs. Junior dos Santos heavyweight championship main event. UFC 211 will take place May 13 from Dallas.
-Max Holloway has landed a movie role working alongside Gerard Butler and 50 Cent. The film is titled “Den of Thieves” and is directed by Christian Gudegast.
-Justin Willis is stepping in on short notice for Luis Henrique to fight Marcin Tybura this weekend at UFC 208.
-Bellator has announced another joint MMA/Kickboxing show to be held in Italy on April 8.
-Episode two of “UFC 208: Embedded” is up: WATCH HERE
NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S UPDATE: TUESDAY NEWS DIGEST: The man who lost to the man C.M. Punk also lost to wants to be next to face Punk (w/Hiscoe’s Analysis)
Am I the only person who seems to consider the European market? The world does exist BEYOND the east coast of America. It’s bad enough that we have to stay up 3am to 6am many Saturday nights/Sunday mornings just to catch the live show (and don’t get me started on the time of the Bisping card in Manchester last year). I seriously hope that the UFC doesn’t switch to Sunday night (US time) as a regular thing, as it will completely alienate the whole of the European market
I agree Phil! More afternoon shows would be great. The NFL has done OK on Sunday afternoons, I’m sure UFC could work there too during the offseason.