UFC 169 may have been a lackluster show, lacking an established drawing card on top. With four decisions in four matches, some of which were tedious, it wasn't the recipe for the greatest in ratings for the preliminary matches.
But that wasn't the case. The show scored well, with 933,000 viewers, making it the most-watched show on FS 1 for the week. What makes that impressive is that the station was doing a ton of Super Bowl preview coverage all week long, and Saturday night is considered the hardest night on television to draw an audience. That made the show, headlined by Alan Patrick's controversial decision win over John Makdessi, the 13th-most watched show since the station launched in August.
That figure was third out of the six prelims since they moved to FS 1, trailing those for UFC 167 and 168. But those were both monster shows, with UFC 167 headlined by Georges St-Pierre and 168 being UFC's biggest pay-per-view event in years.
While it came nowhere close to the UFC 168 prelims, which did 1,554,000 viewers, it was very close to the UFC 167 numbers of 988,000. Since the move to FS 1, the other numbers were 809,000 for UFC 164 (Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis main event), 722,000 for UFC 165 (Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson main event) and 628,000 for UFC 166 (Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos main event).
There is a correlation, but it's far from perfect, between viewership of the prelims and pay-per-view numbers. UFC 168 was a monster in both. UFC 167 was the second best of the same time period in both. But UFC 164 did below 165 and 166 on pay-per-view even though scoring considerably higher for prelim television ratings. It would be surprising if UFC 169 did pay-per-view numbers even close to UFC 165 or 166.
The pre-fight show which aired at 7 p.m. did 239,000 viewers, roughly double the 120,000 average of previous pre-fight shows on the station. It should be noted this was the biggest event they have done this type of pre-fight show for as the others were for Fight Night caliber cards.