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Ratings report: UFC on ESPN 14 lands at No. 1 for Saturday cable ratings, Bellator struggles in return

MMA-UFC-ABU DHABI Photo by JEFF BOTTARI/Zuffa LLC/AFP via Getty Images

UFC on ESPN 14 was another hit for the promotion with the card headlined by former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and Darren Till ending Saturday night as the No. 1 rated show on cable.

According to the Nielsen Ratings System, UFC on ESPN 14 averaged 908,000 viewers for the broadcast that kicked off at 8 p.m. ET. The peak for the show came in at 1.2 million viewers.

The card also received a .35 rating in the coveted 18-49 demographic, which helped propel the UFC card to No. 1 on cable this past Saturday night. Overall, UFC on ESPN 14 produced the ninth-rated card for dedicated shows on ESPN with the top rated event still standing as the first show featuring Francis Ngannou vs. Cain Velasquez in the main event, which averaged 1.463 million viewers.

UFC on ESPN 14 was also simulcast on ESPN+, which would also provide additional viewership numbers but that is a subscription based service and those ratings are not available publicly.

The UFC on ESPN 14 preliminary card, which kicked off at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, also averaged 483,000 viewers. The prelims ended the night at No. 8 overall on Saturday.

The UFC has enjoyed robust ratings success since coming back as the first major promotion to start staging events again during the coronavirus pandemic. Numerous cards have ended Saturday night as the top-rated program on cable.

Additional sports are coming back now, which will begin to provide the UFC some competition on Saturdays with Major League Baseball returning a few days ago with the NBA to follow with the restart of their season on July 30.

Meanwhile, Bellator MMA also returned to action this past Friday night, but the Viacom-owned promotion didn’t find as much success as the UFC.

Bellator 242, headlined by bantamweights Sergio Pettis and Ricky Bandejas, averaged 277,000 viewers over the course of the broadcast on the Paramount Network. The card ended Friday night at No. 74 overall in cable ratings.

Those viewership numbers rank last among the three cards Bellator has aired on the Paramount Network in 2020, although it must be noted previous cards were also simulcast on DAZN. Bellator 242 was a dedicated card on the Paramount Network only.

Bellator 239 averaged 296,000 viewers while Bellator 240 averaged 310,000 viewers.

The next card for the UFC will take place this Saturday night, but that show featuring middleweights Edmen Shahbazyan and Derek Brunson in the main event is only being broadcast on ESPN+. Meanwhile, Bellator will return on Aug. 7 for a card headlined by former lightweight champion Michael Chandler taking on Benson Henderson with that show simulcast on both the Paramount Network and DAZN.

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