On a Saturday night with minimal major sports competition, UFC’s show from San Antonio, Tex., headlined by Leon Edwards’ five-round decision win over Rafael dos Anjos drew an average of 957,000 viewers for the main card.
The number was the highest for any sports event on Saturday night, beating the PBC boxing event on FOX, where Caleb Plant retained the IBF super middleweight title over Mike Lee, which averaged 923,000 viewers. Because FOX is in so many more homes than ESPN, those numbers shouldn’t be viewed as close as they seem. It was the lowest prime-time boxing rating on FOX so far this year. It also beat boxing significantly in the key 18-49 adult and male demos.
The show peaked at 1,160,000 viewers for the Edwards vs. dos Anjos fight.
The UFC won its time slot on cable in males 18-34, and was second in overall 18-34 and 18-49, and males 18-49 to Live PD: 222 Live PD on A&E.
For the UFC, it was the third-best number of the four ESPN main cards.
The other competing sports event, Major League Baseball on FS 1, did 343,000 viewers.
The prelims, which featured some name fighters like Alex Caceres, former title challenger Raquel Pennington, Sam Alvey, Roxanne Modafferi and Ray Borg did 548,000 viewers airing at 6 p.m. ET. The one very notable difference from UFC in past years on FS 1 and this year on ESPN is that the FS 1 audience was far more willing to watch five hours, while the ESPN audience in far greater numbers doesn’t watch the prelims.
The biggest difference was in the 35-49 age group where the main card nearly doubled the prelims.
Of the top nine markets, Houston, which did a 1.1 for the main card and 0.6 for the prelims, was the highest for both. Dallas did a 0.8 for the main card but only a 0.3 for the prelims. San Francisco did the second-strongest prelims ratings at 0.4, even though they aired in the afternoon on the West Coast, and did a 0.6 for the main card. Chicago and Philadelphia, which did a 0.2 for the prelims and 0.3 for the main card, were the lowest rated of the major markets.