BALTIMORE, Md. -- When the overnight ratings for last Saturday's UFC on FOX 11 broadcast came in on Sunday, they weren't particularly pretty. In fact, they were the lowest ever in the history of the UFC on FOX series, both in adults 18 to 49 years of age and total viewers in all of broadcast television for the night.
Better news emerged on Tuesday, when it was determined from the final ratings numbers the show averaged 2.5 million viewers with the main event between Fabricio Werdum and Travis Browne averaged 3.3 million. In addition, the UFC won the night coveted male demographics of 18 to 34 and 18 to 49 for all of broadcast television.
Those numbers are still on the low end of what the series averages, but a vast improvement over the initial, and frankly dreadful, overnights.
When I asked White at the media day for UFC 172 on Thursday for his take on what the final numbers mean, White admitted something for the first time publicly: it's not merely that male demographics matter the most, it's the only thing that matters.
"The overnight's don't matter. The overnight is just to give you an idea of what the real number is going to be," White said of the event's ratings.
"I talked to the president of FOX the next day and they could not be happier with the numbers. Somebody was telling me there was all this talk about how bad the numbers were. I was like, 'What? We're number f--king one on all of broadcast and cable in the key demos.'
"You realize the entire time we were with FX, I would try to get the number, like, one-point something million viewers or whatever it was and FX would never give me the number? Because they don't get it, ever. FX doesn't get that number because they don't give a sh-t about that number. All they care about are the key male demos."
The UFC held both preliminary card bouts and events exclusive to FX from through 2012 and 2013.
"When I was at ESPN all day yesterday, all the guys there were talking about our numbers. That's all that matters. We were number one in all of broadcast television in male demos. Those are the numbers that everybody wants to get. Those are the elusive young guys that the networks are always trying to drag in because that's what advertisers want."
White argued not only did they deliver in key male demographics on Saturday night, but they did as well for the finale of The Ultimate Fighter: Nations on FOX Sports 1, which aired on Wednesday night.
"Our numbers couldn't be better. Not only did we deliver on Saturday night and number one in all of broadcast television [in male demographics], on Wednesday night, which our fights never are but we landed on a Wednesday night because that's when they needed us - we delivered massive numbers to them. The numbers were up 480 percent for what would normally be there on a Wednesday night. It's a home run."
From White's vantage point, the UFC operates with advantages and disadvantages. Their product attracts the sought-after males advertisers can't reach, but depending on the city and broadcast platform, air their events very early in the afternoon. For the UFC President, he believes the numbers pulled in the last week only underscore how well the UFC does with males given all the limitations they routinely have to work around.
"Realize we start at one or two o'clock in the afternoon. So, if you look at Saturday for us and for FOX, the numbers started at 200,000 [viewers] at one o'clock in the afternoon. Then went to 300, then 500, then by the time we started on big FOX, we were at a 1.4 million. Then we jumped to 2.4 [million viewers] and ended the night at 3.5 million viewers for them.
"Home run, boys," White continued. "It was a great night. It was a great week on television."