Robert Whittaker and Derek Brunson may have had one of the most exciting one-round fights of the year, but their name value wasn't enough to draw a big television audience.
Saturday's UFC show from Melbourne, Australia, featuring a battle of top 10 middleweights averaged 686,000 viewers, a drop of 17 percent from the previous week. Whittaker's win was seen by the third-lowest prime time UFC Fight Night of the year on FS 1. Part of the reason was the tough college football competition, but that's the case every fall, and HBO airing a replay of the Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev fight. But one week earlier, the Ryan Bader vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira event did 823,000 viewers, and it had head-to-head competition from Bellator.
Ward vs. Kovalev did 834,000 viewers on HBO, but most of the audience that gets FS 1 doesn't get HBO, so that's only part of the reason for the drop. The live HBO main event of Vasyl Lomanchenko vs. Nicholas Waters did 782,000 viewers.
The only two lower-rated prime time shows on FS 1 this year were both headlined by John Lineker. Lineker's July 13 fight with Michael MacDonald drew 609,000 viewers and his Oct. 1 fight with John Dodson did 657,000 viewers.
If there was a positive to be gleaned, it was that most of the audience watched all five hours of UFC programming instead of three. The prelims, loaded up with fight content since all four bouts went the distance, averaged 654,000 viewers. The top bout of the prelims was Daniel Kelly's decision win over Chris Camozzi.
Last week's show from Brazil saw the prelims only do 532,000 viewers.
The three-hour main card on Fox Sports Go delivered 34,249 streams, of which 14,506 were unique viewers and the average minute was seen by 4,423 streamers.
The prelims delivered 25,203 streams over the two hours, with 10,990 unique viewers and the average minute was seen by 5,239 streamers.
The pre-fight show did 278,000 viewers and post-fight show did 199,000.