UFC 214 prelims do 886,000 viewers, but other pay-per-view indicators are strong

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The prelims for UFC 214 on Saturday night averaged 886,000 viewers, which would only be the third-best of the seven pay-per-view shows so far this year.

It sounds bad, because UFC 214 was expected to be by a wide margin, the biggest show so far this year. And the show looks to have been - easily - from virtually every other measurable standpoint. The reason the show likely fell below the 1 million mark is because it aired on FXX, an unfamiliar station to the UFC audience. Previously, UFC pay-per-view prelims were almost always on FS 1, and when not, would be on FX, which is a higher rated station.

The UFC show was moved from its usual home due to a major league baseball game with the Miami Marlins vs. Cincinnati Reds, which only did 276,000 viewers.

The 886,000 viewers was up 67 percent from what FXX averaged last July in the same time slot. It was also the most-watched sports program on television during the 8-10 p.m. time slot. The actual Adrien Broner vs. Mickey Garcia boxing match on Showtime did 881,000 viewers for the fight itself, but the fight started after the UFC prelims had ended.

The UFC ratings peak was 1,072,000 viewers for the Aljamain Sterling decision win over former bantamweight champion Renan Barao. The TV main event where Ricardo Lamas beat Jason Knight only went one round, giving it less time to build an audience.

As compared to usual UFC television programming, the 18-49 male audience was 77 percent, well above the usual male skew. The audience was younger skewing than usual. For a comparison, the replay of the Bellator pay-per-view from June 24 in Madison Square Garden the prior night on Spike did virtually identical numbers as the UFC prelims when it came to viewers over the age of 50, but the UFC show did almost double the Bellator show in 35-49 and nearly four times the number in 18-34.

But while those type of prelim numbers would not correlate to big pay-per-view numbers for UFC's best show from a marquee value, early indications are good.

Dana White after the show said it was tracking at about one million buys, far ahead of most predictions of 500,000 to 700,000. While no solid numbers are available this early in the week, those with access to the Internet sales of the show indicated the show pulling much stronger numbers than even the most optimistic predictions. Internet pay-per-view orders are often the best predictor, although the 1 million mark still sounds high. Jones himself was clearly stunned, in a positive way, when the 1 million number was thrown out to him after the show.

The high-end number, if that holds up, would tell an important story. UFC 213, headlined by Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero for the interim middleweight title, after the Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko fight fell through, did an estimated 130,000 to 135,000 buys. UFC shows all year have been down, but there also hadn't been a fight that would have been expected to do more than 300,000 buys all year. A big number here indicates that it isn't that UFC itself is cooling off, and that numbers will come up to expected levels when the big fights transpire. It's also a good indication that Jones has the potential to be a bigger draw going forward than he had been historically.

The first Jones-Cormier fight did more than 800,000 buys, but it felt at the time like that was a much bigger fight than the second one because of the stronger grudge match aspect, and also because Jones solidly won the first fight.

UFC 214 was the No. 1 weekend search on Google with more than 2.8 million total, far beyond the usual 500,000 range that most UFC pay-per-view shows have done this year. Historically, Google searches are a better predictor of pay-per-view than prelim television ratings.

The pre-fight show on FXX did 307,000 viewers. The post-fight show on FS 1 at 1 a.m. did 267,000 viewers.

The weigh-ins live on FS 1 did 245,000 viewers, the fifth-most watched weigh-in the station's history. A 10 p.m. replay of the weigh-ins did 142,000 viewers.

Bellator did 539,000 viewers for a tape of its show from five weeks earlier, featuring Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva and Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione. That number was about what most Bellator non-major shows airing live are doing these days. The show peaked at 735,000 viewers. It's also possible, since it wasn't a live show, that DVR numbers on a percentage basis will be higher than usual.


It's easy to see why the numbers were low.

Many people don’t get FXX with their basic package. I only started receiving it in my package in the last year. Before you had to pay for an addition channel package.

I didn't even know it was a channel

Luckily, it was in my cable package, but I had to search by title to find the prelims.

Sling does not have FXX in our area

Wish they would stick with FS1/2 but it was booked up with Wakulla Shuffleboard Semi-Finals

I'm a cord cutter...

…but have Sling TV. I didn’t realize until I was watching the Fight Pass prelims that the regular prelims were on FXX. I get FS1, FS2, FX, and on demand FXX, but no live FXX. Luckily, YouTube TV just became available in my area, so, thanks to a 30 day trial, I was able to watch it.

Who the hell is watching baseball?????

By the numbers, not many! Why would FS1 do this to the UFC? Put that shitty ass boring BB game on FXX, which before Saturday night, I didn’t even know I had.

i guess they...

will have to reconsider it going on…….lol
what crazy is that with all these ‘mess’ with FS1 and despite being lower than usual…..prelims still did as Broner vs. Garcia…crazy

Their contact with MLB likely requires that it's shown on FS1

There are also other things like amount of commercial time and viewer demographics that can make less watched events more lucrative. For example, golf doesn’t get good ratings but it skews heavily towards high income individuals that certain companies are willing to pay a lot to advertise to.

Because they have contracts with MLB and other sports and they have to give them certain dates on Fox/FS1.

Is that really something you dont understand?

Baseball only sport you can fall asleep in the middle of and when you wake up absolutely nothing has happened.

So boring the athletes throw pies in each other’s face during the game.

I don't live in the US, so I have no idea about these channels and how they are accessible...

but I have read so many articles about how UFC was moved aside for some stupid stuff like baseball or nascar that it pisses me off. To me it comes off as if Fox guys didn’t really respect the UFC and treat it as their bitch. I’m glad that baseball game they showed instead did so poorly.

Their contracts with Nascar and MLB guarantee that they will be shown on the flagship channels, no matter what

Time to renegotiate. UFC's contract is also coming up.

No one even watches that boring shit.

No one even watches that boring shit.

UFC’s ratings record on FS1 is 2.75 Million viewers.

The final NASCAR race to be broadcast this year on FS1 did 3.2 Million, and the article calls it a "record low", which means NASCAR’s record low beat UFC’s record high.

Why on Earth does it piss you off?

It’s not something to get emotional about at all



Don't even know what happened on that first post but recs for all.

Finally someone says it

Ppvs have been down yes, but only due to the headliners. Only 209 and 211 could’ve been expected to do even 300k buys, and they both did. Interim title fights do very low numbers. Hell, Pettis v Holloway did 150 and Werdum v Hunt did 180.

Still dont get why they couldnt do the prelims on FX like they did for 211. I understand they cant have every Sat night they want on FS1 cause they have other sports they have to air but why couldnt they bump the Sat night movie off FX?

Probably cost UFC a good 500k viewers not being on FX or FS1, probably more than that.

No way this did a million buys


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