UFC® Live Hardy vs Lytle at Bradley Center on Sunday, August 14, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Photos by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
While news of ratings on Versus may seem minor with the revelation that the UFC has seemingly signed a multi-year deal with Fox, it is still important information. UFC on Versus 5 clocked in up from the promotion's previous Versus efforts but still much lower than the typical Spike card.
This Sunday's show was headlined by a bout between Chris Lytle and Dan Hardy averaged 766,000 viewers, up from the 744,000 drawn by the last effort, a card which saw Nate Marquardt pulled due to TRT issues and Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry moved to the main event.
Compare these numbers to the average numbers for the last UFC Fight Night which came in at 2.2 million viewers. That show also featured Dan Hardy and peaked in viewers at 2.4 million during his fight with Anthony Johnson.
Even episodes of ESPN 2's Friday Night Fights have surpassed the Versus numbers. Earlier this year a bout between Peter Manfredo and Daniel Edouard did 788,000 viewers. Obviously the UFC is stronger in the younger demographic, but just as a sign of where the UFC's Versus ratings have been, being outdrawn by unimportant boxing shows with a roughly $50,000 budget is really bad. The UFC is too good of a product and too strong as a brand to be in this situation.
There is simply no way to spin that ratings have been solid on Versus. One truly hopes that the move to Fox and it's family of networks will be a move that really brings a strong live event viewership boost.