Action lightweights like Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, and Dustin Poirier may get serious MMA fans buzzing because of their exciting style, but when it comes to resonating with television viewers, it hasn’t connected this summer.
Just as the July 28 Alvarez vs. Poirier fight headlined the show that drew the lowest average viewer number in the history of Saturday night fights on FOX, with 1,678,000 viewers, Gaethje, the division’s other big action fighter drew the lowest Saturday night ratings to date for UFC on FS1 for his fast knockout win over James Vick.
Saturday’s show from Lincoln, Neb., did 596,000 viewers for the main card. While some Friday night shows and most afternoon shows have done lower figures over the years, the show fell shy of the previous low of 609,000 viewers for a regular Saturday night time slot show set on May 31, 2014, for a Stipe Miocic vs. Fabio Maldonado fight.
That was well below the bottom figure this year, also set last month for the July 14 Junior Dos Santos vs. Blagoi Ivanov-headlined show that did 754,000 viewers. The Saturday night shows in 2018 are averaging 803,000 viewers.
There was competition from an NFL preseason football doubleheader on CBS which did 3,402,000 and 2,358,000 viewers respectively. UFC did beat all sports on cable on Saturday night. It outdrew its Major League Baseball lead-in which did 425,000 viewers, as well as the Jose Pedraza vs. Raymundo Beltran boxing match on ESPN, which did 532,000 viewers, and the head-to-head college football game on ESPN2 with Wyoming vs. New Mexico that did 464,000 viewers. There was also a Bare Knuckle boxing event that night on pay-per-view.
Perhaps the leading culprit may have been the celebrity boxing match with Logan Paul vs. KSI, the battle of YouTube celebrities that did 784,000 pay-per-view buys on the Internet at $10, a figure unheard of for that type of an event. It was believed to have been seen in three million homes worldwide if you include the illegal streams and garnered more interest among the public than any sports event. That event did 2 million google searches, beating everything over the last several days besides the Jacksonville shootings and the death of John McCain.
The audience for UFC also didn’t stay up for the main event, which started after 12:30 a.m., as the peak number was 668,000 for the bout where Deiveson Figueiredo moved to 15-0 with a second-round stoppage of John Moraga.
The main card also averaged 15,593 streaming viewers per minute, which is significantly up from a usual FS1 show.
The post-fight show did 208,000 viewers on FS1.