In what appears to be a first for a televised UFC card, the preliminary portion of Saturday’s Fight Night event from Buenos Aires had greater viewership than the main card.
The prelims which aired on FS1 did an average of 707,000 viewers from 8-10 PM ET. The main card which also aired on FS1 from 10 PM ET until just after 1 AM averaged 632,000 viewers. That’s a drop in viewership of more than 10%.
The card was headlined by Neil Magny taking on Santiago Ponzinibbio in a welterweight bout. Other notable names on the main card were Ricardo Lamas in the second fight from the top and Cynthia Calvillo opened up the 10 PM portion of the card. The prelims were not particularly star-studded and featured Michel Prazeres taking on Bartosz Fabinski in the final slot.
Both the prelims and the main card did identical 0.3 ratings in the 18-49 demographic.
It wouldn’t be unusual for the prelims of a lowly purchased pay-per-view to have more viewers than the main card, but UFC televised events typically see growth from the prelims to the main card, until around midnight on the east coast, or later if there is an attractive main event.
A Hallmark movie “Christmas at Graceland” won the night on cable with more than 4.6 million viewers and a 0.7 rating in the key demo. There were college football games on ABC and FOX but each of those games were scheduled from 8-11 PM ET so would have hurt the prelims more than the main card.
As for a recent comparison, the 623,000 viewers for the main card is down from the previous week’s 840,000 for the 25th Anniversary event headlined by Korean Zombie and Yair Rodriguez but up from the 531,000 viewers for the October show headlined by Volkan Oezdemir and Anthony Smith.
So while the rating in isolation is nothing to celebrate or fret about, UFC may be facing an issue of changing audience behaviors just as they prepare to shift to a new broadcast partner.
All ratings courtesy of TVbytheNumbers.com