The prelims for Saturday night's UFC 206 show in Toronto, did 771,000 viewers, the second-lowest for such a show this year.
The headline bout on the prelims show was Misha Cirkunov's first-round finish of Nikita Krylov. With the match going so short, the peak rating ended up at 876,000 viewers for the Valerie Letourneau vs. Vivane Pereira fight.
The lowest number of the year for pay-per-view prelims on FS 1 was 678,000 viewers before UFC 204, the Michael Bisping vs. Dan Henderson headlined show. UFC 198, which was headlined by Stipe Miocic's heavyweight title win over Fabricio Werdum, saw the prelims do 786,000 viewers, similar to Saturday's show. That show ended up doing 217,000 buys on pay-per-view.
The viewership on Saturday was 32 percent below the 2016 average of pay-per-view prelims on FS 1 of 1,136,000 viewers.
The prelims number isn't necessarily an indication of how the pay-per-view show itself does, but more often than not, it is a good indicator. With the show losing its scheduled main event of Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony "Rumble" Johnson, and sandwiched between shows headlined by Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, it wasn't expected to do any kind of major numbers.
The key head-to-head competition to the show was the announcement of the Heisman Trophy winner for this year, which drew 2,638,000 viewers on ESPN. The Terrence Crawford vs. John Molina boxing match on HBO did 806,000 viewers for the main event segment, but the main event aired against the pay-per-view and not opposite the FS 1 fights.
The pre-game show did 233,000 viewers, which was below the 277,000 for the Bisping vs. Henderson show. The post-fight show did 97,000 viewers, also below average numbers.
Spike TV experimented on Saturday with airing its Bellator show live from Florence, Italy, headlined by Alessio Sakara's quick win over Joey Beltran. The show aired at 4 p.m. Eastern time and did 529,000 viewers.
The move may have been a test to see how a live show would do in the afternoon compared to the usual tape delay that Bellator does with overseas shows that aren't done during normal prime-time hours.
It was the fourth time Bellator has run an overseas event this year. The first three, which aired on tape in prime time, averaged 564,000 viewers. The most recent, a show from Tel Aviv, Israel, which aired on Nov. 11, the day after it was filmed, did 555,000 viewers. It had a welterweight title fight as the main event with Douglas Lima capturing the belt from Andrey Koreshkov.
The numbers are close enough that this didn't overwhelmingly prove whether live out of prime time is superior to taped and put in prime time, because of the difference in the main events. But there's more evidence that indicates that more viewers will watch the show taped but in prime time.