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UFC 258 prelim ratings down dramatically from UFC 257 card but still top sports program on Saturday

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UFC 258: Vieira v Hernandez Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

The UFC 258 prelims ended Saturday night as cable’s highest-rated sports program with coverage of the second impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump dominating the night overall.

According to the Nielsen Ratings System, the UFC 258 prelims headlined by Anthony Hernandez pulling of a dramatic submission over grappling champion Rodolfo Vieira, ended the night with 794,000 average viewers over the two-hour broadcast on ESPN. The prelims scored a .28 rating in the coveted 18-49 year old demographic, which was good enough for No. 13 overall on cable for Saturday.

Every other broadcast that did better than the UFC 258 prelims were focused on the impeachment hearing with CNN’s coverage during the 4 p.m. hour on Saturday receiving the highest ratings with 3.723 million viewers on average.

The prelims for first pay-per-view of 2021, which featured Dustin Poirier taking on Conor McGregor, averaged 1.433 million viewers. While those numbers are nearly double what the prelims for UFC 258 averaged, it’s not unexpected considering the drawing power of the pay-per-view main event with UFC 257 likely going down as one of the highest-selling cards of all-time with more than 1 million buys.

The UFC 258 prelims, which led to the pay-per-view card where Kamaru Usman defeated Gilbert Burns in the main event, were still the top rated sports program for Saturday on cable ahead of a NASCAR Xfinity Series event on FOX Sports 1 as well as a pair of college basketball games on ESPN earlier in the day.

Top Rank Boxing, which followed the UFC broadcast on ESPN, ended the night with 584,000 viewers on average.

Overall, the UFC 258 prelims still ended with higher ratings than the prelims for the final four pay-per-view cards for the UFC in 2020.

The UFC will aim for even higher ratings with the next pay-per-view card on March 6 as UFC 259 will be capped off by former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz taking on Casey Kenney in the featured bout ahead of a pay-per-view headlined by a trio of title fights including the champion vs. champion showdown between Jan Blachowicz and Israel Adesanya.