The UFC 247 prelims on ESPN did a strong 1,491,000 viewers, a figure at the high end historically, although there should be an asterisk by this one.
The show, scheduled for an 8 p.m. start, didn’t actually begin until 8:52 p.m. due to the Duke vs. North Carolina basketball game going into overtime. But the big lead-in from the game, which did 2,674,000 viewers, strongly boosted what remained for UFC’s two-hour slot.
The first fight airing, Lauren Murphy’s controversial win over Andrea Lee, did 2,074,000 viewers, putting it as one of the highest numbers for a prelim fight in the last decade, which is clearly due to the lead-in.
Most likely, the show still would have done well even without the lead-in. UFC 247, with Jon Jones vs. Dominick Reyes on top, did 2.1 million Google searches. While a far cry from the 11 million of the Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone show on Jan. 18, it is well above the usual 500,000 to 1,000,000 that most UFC pay-per-view shows do, and at the usual level for a Jones fight.
The UFC show was third in its time slot in the 18-49 demo, dong a 0.56. It trailed the 0.8 that the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors game on ABC did, and the 0.57 that Live PD did on A&E. In the male 18-49 demo, overall 18-34 and male 18-34, the UFC show was first in its time slot on cable and second to the NBA game overall.
On the flip side, the first hour of the prelims, with Mario Batista over Miles Johns and Khaos Williams beating Alex Morono, the latter in 21 seconds, drew 134,000 viewers when moved to ESPN News due to the basketball game going long.