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UFC on FOX 25 does lowest overnight ratings in series history

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Saturday night was, by almost all accounts, a strong night for UFC, with an entertaining show on its largest platform, the FOX network.

The show was headlined by former middleweight champion Chris Weidman beating Kelvin Gastelum via third -ound submission in the company's debut at the Nassau Coliseum, just a few minutes from where Weidman grew up on Long Island, N.Y.

Sunday morning wasn't as bright.

The UFC's television ratings woes of two weeks ago continued, as, based, on the overnight ratings, the Fight Night did 1.64 million viewers. It would be the lowest rating, based on the overnights, for a UFC on FOX event in history.

The prior low was for the previous show, on April 15, headlined by Demetrious Johnson's record tying 10th title defense, a win over Wilson Reis, which did 1.74 million viewers on the overnights.

Compared to a strong July show last year, headlined by Holly Holm vs. Valentina Shevchenko, which was the most successful summer television show in UFC history, the total audience was down 32 percent from 2.44 million and the key 18-49 demo was down 33 percent, falling from a 0.9 to an 0.6.

The July show has traditionally been the hardest to draw big numbers in, although last year was the exception. The FOX show in July 2015, headlined by T.J. Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao for the bantamweight title, did 2.29 million viewers on the overnights. The 2014 version, headlined by Matt Brown vs. Robbie Lawler, did 2.02 million viewers on the overnights.

While the show wasn't loaded with big names, Weidman was promoted hard as one of the company's signature stars a few years ago after he twice defeated Anderson Silva. His second fight with Silva was one of the biggest pay-per-view shows up to that point in company history.

Weidman had lost three in a row, but his name value should have been strong enough to do better numbers.

On the bright side, the 18-49 demo number was first in its time slot among the four networks, and tied with a rerun of "Dateline" on NBC, which also did an 0.6 from 10-11 p.m., for the best network number of the night.

But it was also the least amount of viewers of the four major networks, as ABC averaged 2.41 million from 8-10 p.m. for reruns of America's Funniest Home Videos and In an Instant. CBS averaged 1.88 million viewers for two episodes of Doubt. NBC averaged 2.12 million viewers for a rerun of American Ninja Warrior. But over those two hours, ABC averaged an 0.4 in 18-49, as did NBC, while CBS only averaged an 0.2.

The number should rise, and probably significantly, because the overnight ratings measure 8-10 p.m. Eastern, 7-9 p.m. Pacific, 6-8 p.m. Mountain time and 8-10 p.m. Pacific time.

The key is for West Coast markets like Las Vegas, Seattle, Sacramento, and Los Angeles, which are often strong for UFC. The ratings measured what the local FOX stations aired from 8-10 p.m. rather than the UFC, which as a live sports event started at 5 p.m. local time.

Another key is that the Weidman vs. Gastelum main event was just starting at 10 p.m., and the fight and Weidman's post-fight interview went until about 10:33 p.m., meaning what was almost surely the highest rated part of the show didn't figure into the number in any time slot. So the early numbers only really measured the first three fights, which didn't feature any major drawing cards.

It is probable that when the post-10 p.m. and West Coast numbers are figured in, that UFC and FOX will have handily won the night among network programming in 18-49, and probably will have beaten CBS when it comes to viewers.

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