It's no secret that once the UFC and FOX signed their mega-agreement last year that there would be a heavy emphasis on helping the fledgling FUEL TV increase their very low ratings. Staples of the old Spike TV deal such as UFC Unleashed, Countdown to UFC PPV, replays of past PPV events, along with the new programming of live international cards, preliminary card specials and UFC Tonight have been a major success for FOX's sister channel. According to their latest press release, they posted record ratings for the month of July, and viewership is significantly higher from last year.
July 2012 is the network’s most-watched month ever, surpassing June 2012;
· July 2012 was up +180% in Total Viewers and +300% in M18-49 vs. July 2011;
· Prime time finished up +238% in Total Viewers and +200% in M18-49 vs. July 2011;
· Live UFC Fight Night on FUEL TV on Wednesday, July 11 was the network’s third most-watched program ever with 211,000 Total Viewers;
· UFC Fight Night on FUEL TV viewership peaked from 10:30 PM ET – 10:45 PM ET with 291,000 Total Viewers
· Wednesday, July 11 ranked as FUEL TV’s second most-watched prime time and third most-watched day in network history;
· For the first seven months of 2012, prime time viewership is +164% over 2011;
· Since January 1, the network’s total day viewership is up +110% compared to 2011;
Those are definitely encouraging numbers for FUEL, who have only been in operation since 2003 and are available in just 36 million homes. That said, my previous sentence does underline the frustration of MMA fans because the UFC puts six full events and several preliminary specials on FUEL, with full knowledge that most cable carriers (including Comcast) do not have the channel, shutting off a significant viewing audience. Of course, I'd imagine the UFC has a tad more interest in pleasing their new partners one way or another, and while the FOX ratings have dropped since January, the FX and FUEL numbers will definitely please them. The next step obviously is to have FUEL in more homes so the UFC can continue to reach a broader audience on a daily basis.
The next live FUEL shows are both international cards in Nottingham, England on September 29th, and in Macau on November 10th. To date, FUEL TV has aired 2,276 hours of UFC programming both live and taped, which is the equivalent of just under 95 full days.