One can interpret Saturday’s UFC television ratings in a number of different ways.
The UFC on FOX 8 show did the smallest audience, by a smidgen, of any MMA show on network television, doing a 1.5 rating and 2.38 million viewers. The two weakest shows from last year, headlined by Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Alexander Gustafsson, both did 1.4 ratings, but delivered slightly more viewers, at 2.42 million and 2.44 million respectively. But both of those shows drew slightly better numbers in the target demos, and against tougher competition.
On the flip side, the UFC on FOX show drew more viewers in the Adult 18-49 demographic (1.1 rating), as well as among Men 18-49 (1.6) and 18-34 (1.5) than any show on television on Saturday. It was also the highest-rated network television show in Males 18-34 of the weekend, and finished in eighth place in that demographic among network shows for the entire week.
The show gained significant audience from start-to-finish, but that is to be expected from an event of this type where the show builds to a main event on last.
FOX sells ads for the show largely based on the Male 18-49 number, since MMA is considered a strong target buy.
The numbers were down 36 percent in total audience and 32 percent in ratings from the previous FOX event, headlined by Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez for the lightweight title. But given the star power and attractiveness overall of the two shows, the decline should have been expected.
Essentially, it was the weakest card from a star power standpoint that the UFC had put on FOX to date. But it probably did as good as expectations should have been, given the lineup.
In the key demos, the number significantly beat what baseball does when put in the same time slot, although baseball does better overall because it’s is so much more popular with people above the age of 45 than the UFC is.
Many would argue that the FX prelims were really the stronger show, with hot fights including Ed Herman beating Trevor Smith via controversial decision, which got the best fight bonus, and a back-and-forth TV main event with Jorge Masvidal submitting Michael Chiesa with one second left in the second round.
The FX show, the next to last airing of MMA on the network as far as current plans go, did a 0.73 rating and 904,000 viewers. While well under the 1.3 million viewers that FX averaged for its MMA shows, it also aired from 5-8 p.m. ET as compared with the usual 8-10 p.m.
FX airs its last MMA show as the prelims this coming Saturday before UFC 163 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. All major UFC programming starting on Aug. 17 moves to the new Fox Sports 1. As compared with the April 20 show, the rating was down 14 percent and total audience down 11 percent.