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UFC 248 prelims become third PPV lead-in to crack 1,000,000 mark this year

Sean O’Malley
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The UFC 248 prelims, getting a strong lead-in from the Duke vs. North Carolina basketball game, did 1,195,000 viewers on ESPN.

The number was the third best of the three pay-per-view shows this year, but it was also expected to be. The number is determined somewhat from the lead-in, but mainly from the headline star of the PPV later that night.

Israel Adesanya’s first defense of the UFC middleweight championship against Yoel Romero headlined Saturday’s show at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, while a bantamweight bout between Sean O’Malley and Jose Quinonez served as the final ESPN preliminary.

UFC 246, headlined by Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone, saw the prelims do 1,767,000 viewers. Last month, UFC 247, headlined by Jon Jones vs. Dominick Reyes, saw the prelims do 1,491,000 viewers.

But any figure of more than one million viewers for pay-per-view prelims that aren’t headlined by McGregor would be considered strong.

The Duke-North Carolina lead-in did 2,232,000 viewers. Because of that, the peak quarter audience for the prelims was the opener rather than the main event, as is normally the case. The Gerald Meerschaert vs. Deron Winn early rounds did 1,603,000 viewers.

The UFC show was No. 2 for the night on cable in 18-49 and males 18-49, behind the basketball game. It was first in 18-34 and tied for first in males 12-34. It won its time slot on cable in every male demo under 50.

The PPV itself, paced by Adesanya vs. Romero and Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzjczyk for the strawweight title did 2.1 million Google searches, which was a higher level of general interest overall aside from a McGregor or Jones headlined event.

The strongest UFC audience was males between the ages of 35 and 49.

In the 18-49 demo, the audience was 69 percent male and 31 percent female.