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Heavyweights rule when it comes to ESPN ratings for a third time

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The heavyweights delivered for a third time this year when it comes to television ratings on ESPN.

Jairzinho Rozenstruik’s hail-mary punch that stopped Alistair Overeem with four seconds left in the fifth round of a fight Overeem had won every round in, did UFC’s largest Fight Night rating audience on ESPN since June 29.

Saturday’s show averaged 1,071,000 viewers, and the main event delivered 1.4 million viewers.

The June 29 show, which did 1,091.000 viewers, was headlined by another top heavyweight fight, Francis Ngannou’s knockout win over Junior dos Santos.

Much of Saturday’s show went against major college football competition, most notably the Big Ten championship game, Ohio State vs. Wisconsin, on FOX that did 13,550,000 viewers. It also went against Virginia vs. Clemson, that did 3,979,000 viewers on ABC.

The show placed a close third in the 18-49 demo on cable for the night, doing an 0.46, just behind Thor on TBS doing a 0.47. It won the night in the overall 18-34 demo, as well as the Male 18-49, 18-34 and 12-34 demos.

The show garnered 500,000 searches on Google, which is the equivalent of a lower-level UFC pay-per-view show.

The prelims, headlined by Tim Means victory over Thiago Alves, averaged 696,000 viewers, the second-best prelims number ever on ESPN, behind only the first ESPN special on Feb. 17. That was a card headlined by another heavyweight fight, Ngannou vs. Cain Velasquez, which, with 1,463,000 viewers on average, is the most-watched UFC broadcast since moving to ESPN at the start of the year.

With a median age of a viewer at 43.1 years, the UFC was the youngest skewing sports program of a major sports day. The UFC also beat out both of TNT’s NBA games held during the week on easier to draw weeknights.

Of the top ten major markets, the strongest, doing 0.7 ratings, were Los Angeles, Houston and Atlanta. The weakest were New York and Washington, D.C., which did 0.3 ratings.


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