The show, strong on action but weak on star power, did 1.593,000 viewers and an 0.5 rating in the key 18-49 demo. The number was a 21-percent drop from the same show last year and a 35-percent drop from two years ago. Making that worse is that this is the UFC’s contract negotiation period with the current FOX deal expiring at the end of this year.
The results were not a surprise since the star power on the show was lower than usual levels with the co-main event featuring Andre Fili and Dennis Bermudez, two respected featherweights with limited mainstream recognition.
In total viewers, FOX finished last among the four major networks, although it did beat CBS in the 18-49 demo.
The previous low mark was 1.64 million viewers and 0.6 in the 18-49 demo for the July 22, 2017 show, headlined by Chris Weidman’s win over Kelvin Gastelum. But that only makes things worse look worse from a historical perspective. The December and January FOX specials traditionally draw higher ratings than the shows during the rest of the year. This also comes only two weeks after the Jeremy Stephens vs. Doo Ho Choi fight did the biggest FOX Spors 1 Fight Night ratings in almost two years.
For a comparison, last year’s January show, headlined by Valentina Shevchenko’s win over Julianna Pena did 2.02 million viewers and a 0.7 in 18-49 in the fast nationals. The January 2006 show headlined by Ryan Bader vs. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson did 2.43 million viewers and a 0.8 in 18-49.
The big network competition was a Golden State Warriors vs. Boston Celtics NBA game on ABC which did 3,697,000 viewers and 1.3 in the key demo. In the men’s 18-49 demo among the four major networks, the UFC finished second to the NBA game.
The overnight ratings do not accurately measure West Coast viewing for either the UFC or the NBA game because they measure what is on the West Coast FOX and ABC stations from 8-10 p.m. The UFC show aired from 5-7 p.m. and the NBA game from 5:30-8 p.m. on the West Coast.
The final number, which will come out on Tuesday, will be somewhat higher. But the increase will be less than usual because the first number only measures 8-10 p.m., and most FOX UFC shows go past 10 p.m. Usually the main event doesn’t start until close to 10 p.m., meaning the most-watched part of the show usually isn’t measured until the final numbers. The best thing for a UFC on FOX show is a five-round main event and the worst is one, like on Saturday, which ends in the first round.
With a brief main event and the show ending at 10 p.m., that greatly limits the usual increase from the preliminary numbers.