Overnight ratings are in for the UFC's ninth event on FOX and the numbers show slight improvement. According to TV By The Numbers, UFC on FOX 9 pulled an average viewership of 2.41 million and a 1.0 rating in adults 18-49. The event was headlined by a flyweight title fight between champion Demetrious Johnson and challenger Joseph Benavidez.
Sunday's rating represents an 11 percent climb from UFC on FOX 8. However, that event was the lowest-rated show of the UFC on FOX franchise. In terms of overnight ratings, UFC on FOX 9's numbers place it in the lower middle of the pack.
Saturday night's UFC on FOX ratings beat several of the company's summer shows, but were the lowest ever for a special during football season.
Based on the overnight ratings and TV By The Numbers, the show did 2.41 million viewers total and a 1.0 rating in the key 18-49 demographic. The final number, which will be out on Monday or Tuesday, would be expected to be slightly higher, because the rating measures the viewership only for 8-10 p.m. time slot nationwide (and its corresponding earlier slots in the Central and Mountain time zone). But it measures what West Coast FOX affiliates did from 8-10 p.m. instead of from 5-7 p.m. when the show aired. It also doesn't measure anything after 10 p.m., but the show only went a few minutes past that point so that won't make a substantial difference to the overall number as it has with previous shows.
Last year's December show on FOX, headlined by Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz and featuring B.J. Penn vs. Rory MacDonald, did 3.41 million viewers and a 1.6 in the overnights, but grew to 4.39 million viewers when everything was factored into the final ratings. The difference was the show went nearly 40 minutes past 10 p.m. The Henderson vs. Diaz fight was the seventh most-watched MMA fight ever on U.S. television, a period which wasn't counted in the original overnight ratings. The show also did strong West Coast numbers that weren't figured in.
The "boost" for this show would not be expected to be anywhere close to the same level.
It was the third time Johnson has headlined on FOX. Based on overnight numbers, the first, on Jan. 26, against John Dodson, which had the benefit of Rampage Jackson in the semifinal spot and being during football season, did a 1.6 in the 18-49 overall demographic 3.77 million viewers in the overnights. The July 27 show, during the off season when viewership of television is lower and there isn't the benefit of hyping the show during NFL games to a huge male adult fan base, with Johnson against John Moraga, did a 0.9 in the 18-49 overall demographic and 2.08 million viewers.
UFC on FOX specials usually win the 18-49 demographic, but last night they fell behind annual kids oriented Christmas programming on CBS like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and Frosty Returns.
While beating the other networks in the 18-49 demographic, they had the lowest total audience among the four networks even though FOX was the only network presenting first-run programming. The news wasn't all bad for UFC ratings this week. A Wednesday night UFC Reloaded show, which aired UFC 157 for the first time on television, did 480,000 viewers, a number not all that much lower than some of the live Fight Nights. It was the most-watched airing of an event from the library since the company moved to Fox Sports 1.
In addition, the Fight Night from Australia first replay of the Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva did 755,000 viewers live, better than four of the previous five live events. Not surprisingly, given the word-of-mouth from that main event, the first replay the next night, did 316,000 viewers, the highest rated replay airing of a UFC Fight Night since the days on Spike TV.
The Dec. 7 World Series of Fighting show on NBC Sports, headlined by Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Lance Palmer, did only 94,000 viewers, roughly half of what the prior shows have done.
Overnight ratings figures for the first eight UFC on FOX events is as follows:
- UFC on FOX 1: 5.7 million average viewership, 3.1 rating in adults 18-49.
Date: November 12, 2011, headlined by Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos
- UFC on FOX 2: 4.57 million average viewership, 2.2 rating in adults 18-49.
Date: January 28, 2012, headlined by Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis
- UFC on FOX 3: 2.25 million average viewership, 1.0 rating in adults 18-49
Date: May 5, 2012, headlined by Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller
- UFC on FOX 4: 2.36 million average viewership, 0.9 rating in adults 18-49
Date: August 4, 2012, headlined by Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua vs. Brandon Vera
- UFC on FOX 5: 3.41 million average viewership, 1.6 rating in adults 18-49
Date: December 8, 2012, headlined by Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz
- UFC on FOX 6: 3.77 million average viewership, 1.7 rating in adults 18-49
Date: January 26, 2013, headlined by Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson
- UFC on FOX 7: 3.3 million average viewership, 1.6 rating in adults 18-49
Date: April 20, 2013, headlined by Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez
- UFC on Fox 8: 2.08 million average viewership, .9 rating in adults 18-49
Date: July 27th, headlined by Demetrious Johnson vs. John Moraga
Dave Meltzer contributed to this report.