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UFC Fight Night 63 ratings average below 400,000; boxing on CBS garners 1.1 overnight rating

A rare UFC Fight Night card in the afternoon predictably translated into a sharp ratings decline compared to past evening broadcasts.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

It's not often that the UFC holds afternoon events on TV, and the ratings of course suffered because of it. UFC Fight Night: Mendes vs. Lamas averaged just 389,000 viewers from 1-4 PM ET, with peak viewership at 489,000 between 1:30-1:45, or roughly the time when Clay Guida fought Robbie Peralta. A replay of the Fox Sports 1 broadcast (from 8-11 PM ET) garnered a 350,000 average with a 493,000 peak during the main event between Chad Mendes and Ricardo Lamas.

The reasoning behind the early start time was to avoid going head-to-head with the NCAA basketball tournament's Final Four weekend, which proved to be a major success. Undefeated Kentucky's loss to eventual runners-up Wisconsin drew in 22.3 million viewers on TBS, making it the most watched Final Four game since 1993.

This won't be the only morning/afternoon show planned for Fox Sports 1. Next month the UFC will broadcast Edgar vs. Faber from the Philippines with a 10 AM ET main card start time, while the Brazil-based Condit vs. Alves on May 30th gets a 12:30 PM ET main card kickoff due to FS1 airing baseball that day. It's also expected that the July 18th debut in Scotland will also air in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, the UFC wasn't the only combat sports taking up an early Saturday timeslot. Premier Boxing Champions made its debut on CBS with a light heavyweight title fight between WBC champion Adonis Stevenson and Sakio Bika, while Russian prospect Artur Beterbiev starched former 175 lbs contender Gabriel Campillo in the co-feature. The Quebec City-based card ran from 3-5 PM ET, meaning there was an overlap between this and the final hour of the live UFC broadcast, and pulled in a 1.1 overnight Nielsen rating, which translates to about 1.3 million viewers. That's higher than past afternoon cards (non-PBC) that have aired on NBC in the past, and considering that none of the 4 fighters on Saturday's show is remotely close to high-profile in the United States, this isn't a bad number.

I imagine PBC will look for this type of rating for it's daytime shows on network TV, but expect at least double the viewership for primetime bouts on NBC, as was the case for their March 7th show which averaged 3.4 million viewers. However, what should be alarming to PBC regarding Stevenson vs. Bika was the dreadful gate at the Pepsi Coliseum, failing to attract 5,000 people in attendance, making it one of the sparsest crowds for a Stevenson title fight in a long time.

PBC cards on CBS will air at 4:30 PM ET onwards, including their May 9th card in San Antonio. They will also have an afternoon event on NBC on May 23rd (same day as UFC 187) in Boston, headlined by a super middleweight championship fight between Andre Dirrell and James DeGale.

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