It is official: Saturday night’s 29th installment of UFC on FOX, headlined by Dustin Poirier’s second-round win over Eddie Alvarez, was the lowest-rated event in the seven-year history of the series, averaging a 1.04 rating and 1,678,000 viewers.
The number is perplexing on a number of levels. While July is harder to draw television viewers on Saturday nights, the number was 18 percent down from the July show last year and 41 percent down from two years ago. This year’s card, on paper, should have easily topped last year’s show, as well as many other FOX shows in recent years.
Last year’s show had a Chris Weidman vs. Kelvin Gastelum main event, but the closest thing to a name fighter underneath was Dennis Bermudez.
This year, you had Poirier vs. Alvarez, a rematch of a war without a clean ending due to a foul, in their previous encounter. It was also, based on both men’s styles and the previous fight, a bout that hardcore fans would expect to believe would be one of the year’s best bouts.
In addition, you also had major names like former longtime champions Jose Aldo and Joanna Jedrzejczyk in key career matches on the undercard.
The July show two years ago, headlined by Holly Holm vs. Valentina Shevchenko, averaged 2,975,000 viewers. It was the most-watched summer broadcast of a UFC card in the FOX era.
In addition, there was no great competition for UFC on FOX 30. There were no highly rated sports head-to-head, a rarity on a Saturday night, nor blockbuster television shows. The biggest sports competition was a Major League Baseball game on ESPN, which didn’t start until 9:30 p.m. ET, and averaged 1,515,000 viewers. Showtime had boxing, but it started at 10 p.m., only overlapping UFC’s main event, and during that period only did 314,000 viewers.
The other networks were all in reruns and the biggest thing on cable, a Hallmark movie, hit strongest with the over-50 audience, which is not the UFC’s audience.
All three major networks, running rerun shows, handily beat UFC on FOX, although all did so due to drawing far more viewers over 50. The UFC show beat all the networks and all but one show on cable when it came to younger viewers.
The show was the highest rated in all the key male demos on television. The only show on television that beat the UFC in 18-49 and 18-34 demos was “Live PD: 134 PD” on A&E, and that was because of more appeal with women.
The previous record low, the January show headlined by Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza’s win over Derek Brunson, did 1,770,000 viewers. But there was a big difference in star level and expected quality of that show and this one. On paper, that rating was not a surprise.
The Poirier vs. Alvarez main event delivered 2,338,000 viewers, which was the second-lowest for a main event, beating only Souza vs. Brunson which did 2,244,000 viewers.
The show also drew 16,109 streaming viewers on average on FOX Sports streaming services.
The prelims from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on FOX, headlined by Jordan Mein’s decision win over Alex Morono, averaged 939,000 viewers on television and averaged 13,895 viewers via FOX streaming platforms. The streaming numbers should have been above usual because of a FOX Miami preemption of the prelims.