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UFC 238 prelims record company’s biggest television numbers since March

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Saturday night’s UFC 238 prelims on ESPN did 964,000 viewers, the best mark for a UFC television broadcast in three months.

The show peaked at 1.2 million viewers for Tatiana Suarez’s win over Nina Ansaroff, the main event of the television broadcast.

UFC 238’s main card featured two title fights, with Henry Cejudo winning the vacant bantamweight title beating Marlon Moraes, and Valentina Shevchenko retaining the women’s flyweight title over Jessica Eye.

The prelims were the highest rated sports show in the Male 18-34 demo on Saturday, beating out Major League Baseball on FOX, the Belmont Stakes on NBC and the FIFA Women’s World Cup. However, all three of those events drew bigger overall audiences, with baseball on FOX doing 2,560,000 viewers, the Belmont doing 4,909,000 viewers and the highest rated World Cup game doing 1,209,000 viewers.

The UFC was third overall on cable on Saturday in the 18-49 demo, as well as third in Male 18-49, and tied for first in Males 12-34. The show had a strong male skew, as in the 18-49 demo, 75 percent of viewers were male.

UFC 238 was the most searched item on Google for the day, with more than 1 million searches. That level of figure in the past usually translated into more than 250,000 buys on pay-per-view, but the entire system has changed with pay-per-view only available through ESPN+ streaming and no longer on television, which greatly cuts down the number of buyers.

The show was 45 percent ahead of last June’s PPV prelims for UFC 225, when the prelims aired on FS 1, and did 667,000 viewers prior to the pay-per-view headlined by Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero.

The strongest major markets for the show were Dallas, which did a 0.8 rating, and Philadelphia, which did a 0.7. The weakest were Houston at 0.2 and Chicago at 0.3.

The last time UFC beat Saturday’s number was for the prelims before UFC 235 on March 2, headlined by Jon Jones vs. Anthony Smith, which did 1.48 million viewers.

The UFC 238 prelims did a better number than Top Ranked Boxing, which followed on ESPN. That show did 799,000 viewers for a show headlined by Oscar Valdez retaining the WBO featherweight title over Jason Sanchez via 12-round decision.

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