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UFC on FOX 28 does 2,037,000 viewers, but streaming numbers tell bigger story

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Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Saturday’s UFC on FOX 28, headlined by Jeremy Stephens’ second-round TKO win over Josh Emmett did, 2,037,000 viewers going against strong competition, including the Olympics and the Golden State Warriors.

While up 15 percent from the record-low of 1,771,000 viewers set by the Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. Derek Brunson fight, it still would be the fourth-lowest number in the history of the series. The other two shows were bested by the 2016 show headlined by Carlos Condit vs. Demian Maia, and last April’s show headlined by Demetrious Johnson vs. Wilson Reis.

The main event was the highest-rated part of the show, doing 2,731,000 viewers. The longer the main event, generally speaking, the better the overall rating.

While still among the lowest-rated UFC events on FOX, the show overperformed, since it was widely expected, given the competition and the lack of marquee stars, to do the lowest number to date.

The prelims drew 1,216,000 viewers on FOX, the best prelims on FOX since the ones leading to the Holly Holm vs. Valentina Shevchenko fight in 2016.

The most intriguing number regarding the show was actually the streaming figures, due to the prelims not airing in either the San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose market and the Miami/Fort Lauderdale market, and the main show also not airing in the San Francisco Bay Area.

While some viewers in the San Francisco market would have been able to watch the show on KTVU-Plus, a secondary channel for the FOX affiliate in the market that is on some cable systems, a large percentage had it unavailable on television. Most fans who get that secondary channel weren’t even aware of the UFC fights airing in the market.

With one of the biggest markets in the country not airing he main show on television, and two not airing the prelims, one would have expected a huge rise in streaming viewers.

In fact, that didn’t happen. The main card averaged 11,067 viewers streaming per minute through Fox Sports Go and Fox Now. That’s up from 10,694 for the Souza vs. Brunson show, or barely a blip. It’s also down from 15,521 from the Dec. 16 show headlined by Rafael dos Anjos vs. Robbie Lawler.

That makes a major statement about the UFC television audience in 2018, and their willingness to watch a show via streaming when it isn’t airing on television.

With two markets not carrying, the prelims streaming number averaged 11,814 viewers per minute.

The main competition was the Olympics on NBC, which did 11,422,000 viewers airing the figure skating gala and four-man bobsled gold medal finals. NBC Sports Network drew an additional 1,670,000 viewers for a Sweden vs. Korea women’s curling gold medal final.

ABC aired the Golden State Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, which did 4,051,000 viewers.