HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: (L-R) UFC Fighters Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos square off for the cameras during the UFC on Fox: Velasquez v Dos Santos - Press Conference at W Hollywood on September 20, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
So if you have a twitter you'll already know that MMA media types are proclaiming the UFC's first foray onto Fox as a massive failure now that the initial ratings are released. Prior to the night, expectations ranged from the realistic (6.5 million) to the hilarious (10+ million). There was also some discussion regarding what would be an acceptable number for Fox and the UFC with hopes they would surpass Kimbo Slice vs James Thompson.
According to the people at TV by the Numbers, the hour long show did a 2.4 rating with a 7 share at the 18-49 range. Total viewers for the initial estimates are 4.65 million. Now, these are incredibly early and shouldn't be considered the final rating. TV by the Numbers included a disclaimer saying "Due to the nature of live coast-to-coast programming the ratings for ABC (College Football), CBS (Republican Debate) and Fox (UFC) are approximate and subject to more than the typical adjustments in the final numbers. See below for more information on these Fast Affiliate Ratings." This essentially means that there are a number of households that haven't yet been tallied.
So what does this mean? Well it means that the broadcast wasn't perfect and there is still things that both the UFC and Fox can change. We know now that it was Fox's decision to only air one bout which may have been to the detriment of the show's ratings. It also means that with MMA being such a hard sport to plan for, a 35 minute pre show may not be the best idea when a fight can literally end at any moment. Not having a backup plan hurt the UFC and Fox.
The good news though is that more people tuned in for the fight than Notre Dame vs Maryland and the only thing that did bigger ratings was Stanford vs Oregon. Things aren't too bad when put in the right perspective. People saw Junior Dos Santos crush Cain Velasquez last night, the show served its purpose and the UFC has a new star as the heavyweight champion.
From Fox's official press release:
The UFC on FOX debuted strong opposite significant college football competition last night. ABC's primetime Oregon-Stanford broadcast averaged a 6.0/11, while NBC's Maryland-Notre Dame primetime broadcast averaged a 1.4/3 and ESPN averaged a 1.5/3 in prime for Alabama-Mississippi State (college football ratings are overnights – overnight for UFC on FOX event was 3.5/6). The three games combined to total 8.9/17 in primetime. Interestingly, among the Men 18-34 demographic, the UFC on FOX premiere posted a 4.3, strong enough to out-rate every college football telecast this season on any network with the exception of last week’s No. 1 vs. No. 2 LSU-Alabama match-up (through 11/5).
The most recent mixed martial arts programs on broadcast television were a series of EliteXC events on CBS in 2008. The premiere of UFC on FOX attracted an average audience +16% higher than the premiere of EliteXC on CBS (5/31/08), their most-watched EliteXC event (5.7 vs. 4.9 million viewers). UFC on FOX also out-performed the EliteXC show in household rating (3.1 vs. 3.0) and across key male demos: Men 18-34 +34% (4.3 vs. 3.2); Men 18-49 +33% (4.0 vs. 3.0); and Men 25-54 +23% (3.8 vs. 3.1).