Nothing in the world of MMA gets picked apart quite like the ratings in the days following a UFC on Fox event.
When the overnight ratings for the UFC on Fox: Werdum vs. Browne event came out yesterday, it was a bit of a doom and gloom reaction. The viewership numbers were the lowest ever on Fox and, more importantly, Fox only managed to beat out a CBS rerun of Mike and Molly in adults 18-49.
No single event tells the story of the UFC's performance on Fox. For that, we need a much deeper analytic look at the numbers from UFC on Fox 1 onward.
Luckily, that's exactly what we got from one of the best guys on Twitter, @earino.
He put together a huge analysis of the ratings on Fox and gave me the go ahead to use all his charts here. But you should still go check out his full post, since it includes all the dirty formulas used to make the whole thing come together.
We can start with a very easy to read chart that simply shows the viewership with a loess smoothed fit. The shows are then grouped into "quartiles." Or, more simply, broken up into four groups representing the top 25%, second 25%..etc.
Takeaway: Generally it's not a good thing that the four most recent shows are from the "darker" or worse quartiles. Also, as noted in the original analysis, "the most recent events actually underperform the loess fit line, so they are actually performing worse than a regression would estimate."
Next up was a breakdown of event by yearly quarter:
Takeaway: From the original analysis, "This shows that there definitely was a level of seasonality during the first few offerings of the UFC on Fox, however the seasonal potential bump has been leveled."
Next up was another way of looking at the quarter year ratings. A stack by quarter:
Takeaway: The "winter shows" are clearly the better drawing shows right now. But the stacking shows that the stacks portions are smaller and smaller as you get more recent. There's a slight artificial bump in that Q4 stack with the huge number pulled by the debut "card," which was really only the single heavyweight title fight.
Next is a pair of bubble charts:
Takeaway: As explained by @earino, "Bigger bubbles at the top left show us that when we started, there was definitely buzz and promise to the UFC on Fox shows, buht a clear downward trend as we get closer to current day is clear, including the same effect of coloring by quartile. There is no question that as the years pass, the height and size of the bubbles is shrinking."
Looking at the numbers, the trends are clear, and they're not what you'd like to see if you're an executive with Fox or the UFC.
The big question is also a very simple question. Namely, what can the UFC do to reverse the trends?
With starpower lacking comparedto just a few years ago, they need to push their biggest stars to pay-per-view as often as possible, which leaves less for the Fox events. The ambition of their 50+ cards in 2014 schedule is also going to have an impact on the availability of fighters for the Fox cards.
Still, they managed to put together a very exciting card for this past weekend. It was, without any doubt, one of the more exciting shows in the UFC in recent years. So, it's not excitement or simply "the UFC is on TV" that is doing it anymore.
Will they try to make major changes or will they continue with business as usual and hope to turn things around?A
There is much more analysis over at the original post, including a look at Bellator ratings and how they stack up with UFC ratings. So, make sure you go check out all the great work.
And follow @earino on Twitter.