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UFC 249 prelim ratings on ESPN return solid results, broadcast finishes second on cable

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The UFC 249 preliminary card that aired on ESPN this past Saturday night finished second in cable ratings with solid numbers overall for the first show back for the promotion since March.

The numbers come courtesy of the Nielsen Ratings System.

Overall, the UFC 249 prelims averaged 1.154 million viewers over the course of the four-hour broadcast that started at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN. During a shorter broadcast window, the UFC 249 prelims averaged 1.466 million viewers from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., which is the typical time for a preliminary broadcast on ESPN.

With a lack of live sports programming, ESPN ultimately aired the entire four-hour show on the network from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., which then led to the pay-per-view broadcast on ESPN+.

Based on the overall averages, the UFC 249 prelims finished in fourth place out of four pay-per-views in 2020 with UFC 246 leading all shows with an average of 1.767 million viewers. That show featured the return of Conor McGregor later that night on pay-per-view.

The peak number came in at 1.592 million viewers during the featured bout between Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Anthony Pettis.

Overall, ESPN led the important 18-49 demographic during that time period.

According to a separate report from the Sports Business Journal, another 500,000 viewers tuned into the UFC 249 prelims via ESPN+. The prelims were simulcast on both ESPN and ESPN+ from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Additionally, the report states that UFC 249 drew more than 700,000 buys for the pay-per-view that aired exclusively on ESPN+.

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