The first UFC
fight on network television drew approximately 4.6 million viewers, according to early estimates.
Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez
, the heavyweight title fight that the UFC was banking on to bring in a whole new audience on Fox, turned into something of a ratings disappointment, perhaps because the fight lasted only a minute: A longer fight would have drawn in more people who are flipping through the channels and happen to catch the fight and decide to stick with it. Dos Santos knocked Velasquez out so quickly that there was no time for that kind of audience to find the fight.
According to TV By the Numbers
, there's better news inside the coveted 18-49-year-old demographic: Within that group the UFC got a 2.4 rating and a 7 share. That's about the same as the Stanford-Oregon game that was on at ABC at the same time; that matchup of Top 10 college football teams did a 2.5 rating and 7 share in the 18-49 demographic. The college football game did much better among older viewers and had an audience of 7.1 million.
The most frustrating part of this news from the perspective of the UFC and Fox will be that the broadcast fell short of the 2008 Kimbo Slice EliteXC broadcast on CBS. Hard-core MMA
fans know that Velasquez vs. Dos Santos was a much better matchup, but Kimbo had attracted national attention leading up to his fight in a way that Velasquez and Dos Santos hadn't. Kimbo also didn't have the kind of tough competition among sports fans that the UFC had with the Stanford-Oregon game.
The good news for the UFC is that these ratings may end up being adjusted when more data is made available, and the number of people watching during the one minute of fighting -- as opposed to the 59 minutes of pre- and post-fight interviews -- may turn out to have been significantly higher than the 4.6 million for the full hour-long broadcast. More detailed numbers should be available later Sunday.