Saturday's UFC on FUEL event from London, England, featured a surprise of sorts when the ratings came out.
At first look, the live showing doing 195,000 viewers would fit into the expected pattern for a first-run episode. But because it aired at 3 p.m. Eastern time and had a prime time replay, in the past when that situation happened, the prime time show that did the bigger audience. But in this case, the 8 p.m. airing did 116,000 viewers.
The UFC has done four out-of-prime time live cards on Fuel since starting on the station. The Wembley Arena event, featured the first championship match on the station with, Renan Barao retaining the interim bantamweight title over Michael McDonald. It finished just barely behind the April 14 show from Stockholm, Sweden, which did 197,000 viewers for an Alexander Gustafsson vs. Thiago Silva-led card, for an event that aired live outside of prime time. The four non-prime time shows to date have averaged 148,000 viewers live.
Thursday's Bellator show had its second-lowest ratings thus far on Spike doing a 0.6 rating and 719,000 viewers for a show headlined by Eduardo Dantas retaining his bantamweight title over teammate Marcos Galvao. The show did an additional 54,000 viewers when DVR numbers over the next three days were figured in. It also did a 0.6 in Males 18-49, with its lowest totals to date in the key demographics.
The low number continued to show the importance of the TNA pro wrestling lead-in to the Bellator ratings. The pro wrestling show did 1.3 million viewers, and its final segment did a 1.05 rating, both down significantly from figures from previous weeks. It also did unusually low numbers in Males 18-49.
The explanation seems pretty obvious, as the wrestling show and the first half of Bellator, went head-to-head with the Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder NBA game on TNT in a rematch of last season's championship series which featured two of the premier sports stars in the country, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. The game did 3,390,000 viewers, a figure 52 percent higher than a usual Thursday night game and also propelled the late night game at 11 p.m. to do well above its usual numbers. This Thursday's Bellator event features Rad Martinez vs. Shahbulat Shamhalaev in the finals of last season's featherweight tournament, plus one of the company's signature stars, "King" Mo Lawal, against Emmanuel Newton in a light heavyweight tournament semifinal.
UFC's major television event of the weekend will be the prelims of Saturday's show from Anaheim, Calif. The show will air from 8-10 p.m. ET on FX, featuring a heavyweight battle with Lavar Johnson vs. Brendan Schaub. Coming off a high-water mark with 1.9 million viewers watching the prelims of UFC 156 in the same time slot three weeks earlier, it will be interesting to see since there has been so much talk about Saturday's show if that leads to more tuning into prelims.