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UFC 241 only finishes sixth among eight pay-per-view prelims since ESPN move

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The prelims on Saturday before UFC 241 drew 817,000 viewers on ESPN, a number that has to be considered disappointing since it led into arguably the biggest show so far this year.

The number was only sixth out of the eight pay-per-view prelims since the UFC moved to ESPN in January.

The prelims had no major names, but did have a very significant bantamweight division fight with Cory Sandhagen beating Raphael Assuncao.

Still, the prelims peak at 949,000 was for the final fight with Khama Worthy’s first-round knockout win over Devonte Smith.

With Daniel Cormier defending the heavyweight title against Stipe Miocic, and the return of Nate Diaz after three years against Anthony Pettis, this looked to be as strong a pay-per-view offering as UFC has had this year.

Google searches topped 2.4 million, a number that in the past would indicate a pay-per-view number of at least 600,000. Since pay-per-view has moved off television to exclusively streaming on ESPN+, the numbers now are significantly lower, but the UFC is guaranteed a stronger amount of money each month by ESPN, as it uses the UFC’s biggest shows to attempt to draw subscribers to its services.

ESPN won the time slot in males 18-34 and 18-49, placed second overall in 18-34 and fourth in overall 18-49.

The biggest sports competition, which both beat the UFC in the 18-49 demo was a Kansas City vs. Pittsburgh preseason football game on the NFL Network that did 1,660,000 viewers, and NASCAR on NBC Sports Network that did 2,503,000 viewers. The other major head-to-head sports, the Little League World Series on ESPN2, did 662,000 viewers.

The Top Ranked boxing show which followed UFC on ESPN did 471,000 viewers.

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