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UFC on Versus 3 Gets Worst Ratings of the Series

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The ratings are in for UFC on Versus 3 which featured Diego Sanchez vs Martin Kampmann and they are not good. Fewer than 700,000 viewers tuned in to see what turned out to be a spectacular night of fights. These are the worst ratings so far for the UFC on Versus.

MMA Junkie has the details on the ratings:

Ratings for Thursday's action-packed "UFC on Versus 3: Sanchez vs. Kampmann" event slipped from the marks of the first two editions to a series-low audience of 681,000 average viewers, ( today confirmed.
The series high came with the special's debut event in March 2010 when 1.24 million viewers tuned into the longtime home of the WEC to watch Jon Jones dismantle Brandon Vera at "UFC on Versus 1: Vera vs. Jones."

Those figures dipped slightly this past August, when an average audience of 991,000 viewers tuned in to watch "UFC on Versus 2: Jones vs. Matyushenko," in which Jones returned for a first-round TKO of longtime veteran Vladimir Matyushenko.

Zach Arnold comments:

Yesterday's UFC show on Versus drew a 0.7 cable rating. Expected, but not a great number. Especially compared to TNA drawing a goofy 1.4 rating for their dreadful wrestling show on Spike TV. Irony there given that Joe Warren, of all people, was on the telecast to plug Bellator on MTV2. The Versus shows for UFC simply aren't drawing the eyeballs like the Spike TV telecasts and even the Spike shows are stagnant right now.

I don't think UFC has plateaued by any means in terms of live business, but the TV side may be where it's going to stay the same or decline a little. With Australia proving its worth as a big-time foreign market and Canada proving to be golden, the question now becomes what to do internationally and on television in a landscape where a lot of fans Stateside are giving more fighters the thumbs down than the thumbs up in terms of paying to watch them or even watch them for ‘free' on cable. I would be remiss in forgetting to note how Strikeforce did on Showtime last month as compared to some of UFC's cable TV events.

MMA Payout adds:

It may be too early to say that UFC ratings have hit the ceiling. While TUF ratings may have declined this past cycle, we might need to wait until the next Fight Night or June's UFC on Versus to see if the ratings are the same or lower than Thursday to determine a trend.

Couple of take aways:

  • The UFC has become very dependent on Spike TV's promotional abilities and the UFC casual fan base is trained to look for UFC programming on Spike.
  • The UFC has spread their product just about as thin as they possibly can. It's no longer a novelty and they need to get serious about building a new generation of stars to replace Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture et al. The first generation of TUF alumni did pretty well, but it's clear that Forrest Griffin and Diego Sanchez are not the future.
  • Ratings like this can't be helping the UFC convince Comcast/NBC (the owners of Versus) to bet big on the promotion.