Even factoring in the thrilling Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje main event, Saturday night’s UFC on FOX 29 show finished as the fourth-lowest watched show in the history of the UFC on FOX series, doing a 1.25 rating and 2,020,000 viewers.
But in regards to its competition on television, the number wasn’t bad.
The show ended up in third place on television head-to-heads for its time slot, trailing only CBS and ESPN.
It was No. 1 among the big four networks on Saturday night in the 18-34, 18-49, 25-54 and key male demos. UFC on FOX 29 beat the Toronto Maple Leafs win over the Boston Bruins on NBC, which did 1,775,000 viewers, besting the NHL in both total viewers and in all of the key demos.
In head-to-head viewership, it trailed the 4,018,000 viewers for the Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat NBA playoff game on ESPN, which was the most-watched show on television and beat the UFC in all the key demos.
The three UFC on FOX shows that totaled lower were 1,770,000 viewers for the Jan. 27 show headlined by Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza’s win over Derek Brunson, the 1,983,000 viewers for Demian Maia’s win over Carlos Condit in August 2016, and the April 2017 show headlined by Demetrious Johnson’s win over Wilson Reis which did 1,996,000 viewers.
However, the Maia vs. Condit number was misleading because the show was preempted on FOX affiliates in a number of major markets for NFL preseason football.
The Poirier vs. Gaethje main event did 2,640,000 viewers, the third-lowest watched main event in series history, behind Souza vs. Brunson and Maia vs. Condit, which both did less than 2.25 million viewers.
The show also averaged 10,235 streaming viewers on FOX Sports Go and FOX Now.
The prelims on FOX, headlined by Antonio Carlos Jr.’s first round win over Tim Boetsch, did 970,000 viewers, as well as another 11,415 streaming. It is notable that the prelims averaged higher streaming numbers than the main card, even in a far more unfavorable 6-8 p.m. time slot.
The UFC show followed an even more disappointing night for Bellator on Friday.
Bellator was simulcast on both Paramount and CMT, and averaged 403,000 viewers, broken down as 242,000 on Paramount and 161,000 on CMT. No previous Paramount broadcast had ever done less than 394,000 viewers just on that station, and the final figure, even with the NHL competition and simulcast, was shocking.
Chandler is generally considered Bellator’s biggest homegrown star, making the number an even bigger surprise.
Bellator wasn’t even the most-watched MMA promotion on Friday night. Combate Americas, airing a simulcast on both Univision and Univision Deportes, did 402,000 viewers on Univision and 181,000 on Univision Deportes, for a total of 583,000 viewers. This was the first time the promotion ran on both stations with a simulcast.
While Univision is a much higher-rated station than Paramount or CMT, and thus it doing better shouldn’t be that big of a surprise, it did so with a show that started at midnight, a far worse time slot, and was headlined by Jose Alday, pretty much an unknown, winning a split decision over John Castaneda.