UFC on FOX 28 may have been an entertaining event, but the pre-fight expectation was that the decision to book Josh Emmett vs. Jeremy Stephens as the headliner would lead to minimal viewership on Saturday night.
While the final ratings and viewing totals aren’t really anything to champion, it certainly wasn’t some catastrophic result. Average viewership topped out at 2,037,000 viewers, with a 0.6 rating in the 18-49 demographic. For perspective, UFC on FOX 27 last month only averaged 1,770,000, an all-time low in UFC on FOX history, although the 18-49 demo rating was also 0.6.
Stephens’ controversial knockout win over Emmett represented the peak viewing audience, coming in at 2.731 million. Overall, this is the fourth-least watched show in series history. This marked the first ever February event on big FOX, and on Saturday they went up against the NBA on ABC, as well as the Winter Olympics on NBC.
Rather interestingly, the main card was preempted for other programming in the San Francisco Bay Area, so it was pushed to KTVU-Plus, a secondary channel for that region’s local FOX affiliate. In Miami/Fort Lauderdale, the prelims on FOX — incidentally, this averaged more than 1.2 million viewers — were not shown.
Dave Meltzer has some additional details on the number of legal streamers through the FOX apps:
With one of the biggest markets in the country not airing the main show on television, and two not airing the prelims, one would have expected a huge rise in streaming viewers.
In fact, that didn’t happen. The main card averaged 11,067 viewers streaming per minute through Fox Sports Go and Fox Now. That’s up from 10,694 for the Souza vs. Brunson show, or barely a blip. It’s also down from 15,521 from the Dec. 16 show headlined by Rafael dos Anjos vs. Robbie Lawler.
That makes a major statement about the UFC television audience in 2018, and their willingness to watch a show via streaming when it isn’t airing on television.
The next UFC on FOX card is on April 14th, with Justin Gaethje taking on Dustin Poirier in what should be a phenomenal five-round main event. This is the final year of the UFC’s broadcasting deal with FOX.