A combination of viewer fatigue, a weeknight live show, and a lack of major star power led to Wednesday night's UFC Fight Night doing its lowest numbers of the year.
The show from Sioux Falls, S.D., the company's debut in the market, headlined by bantamweight John Lineker finishing Michael McDonald in the first round, did 609,000 viewers. No prime time show this year had done less than 750,000 viewers for the main card, and both shows that aired out of prime time this year also beat this number.
It was the fourth UFC show over a seven-day period and the three other shows all had championship fights on them.
The original main event for the show was Tony Ferguson vs. Michael Chiesa in a key lightweight bout, but an injury to Chiesa ended up with Lando Vannata as the replacement. The replacement fight was one of the most exciting fights of the year. Ferguson was the biggest name on the show, but Vannata, making his UFC debut, was an unknown as his opponent.
The number was 38 percent below UFC's prime time Fight Night average since February of 981,000 viewers. The number was almost identical to what the taped episode of The Ultimate Fighter did the prior Wednesday, which was 601,000 viewers.
The show went head-to-head with the ESPY awards on ABC, which did 5,603,000 viewers.
The prelims, headlined by newcomer Katlyn Chookagian remaining unbeaten over Lauren Murphy, did 331,000 viewers between 7 and 9 p.m. That was less than half the 688,000 viewers that UFC prelims airing in prime the past six months have been averaging. The previous prime time low for the year was 469,000 viewers and the least-watched afternoon show this year did 443,000 viewers.
For a comparison, the Friday night show headlined by Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Claudia Gadelha did 1,086,000 viewers for the main show and 642,000 for the prelims.
Friday is considered a worse night for television than Wednesday, but for fights, there is more familiarity on Friday and Saturday night shows.