Cause for Concern?: Countdown to UFC 91 Rating

November 11, 2008 has learned that the premiere of Countdown to UFC 91 on Spike drew only 537,000 viewers last night. That number is 11.7% below the average of 608,083 viewers drawn by the first twelve editions of the series this year. The program aired at 11PM EST in hopes of taking advantage of WWE Raw as a lead-in.

Based on’s formula for predicting pay-per-view buys based on Countdown viewership, UFC 91 would be expected to draw only 468,801 buys. While the actual pay-per-view number is virtually certain to be well exceed that projection, the rating is a troubling early sign for the UFC’s hopes of surpassing one million buys given the past strong correlation between Countdown viewership and pay-per-view buys.

At the time of its announcement Couture-Lesnar was widely expected to top one million pay-per-view buys, however, in recent weeks questions have emerged concerning the UFC’s promotional push. Dana White has publicly stated that this fight sells itself and again predicted today on ESPN that the event would draw 1.2 million buys, breaking the company’s current record of just over one million buys for UFC 66.

The event has received more mainstream media coverage, particularly from ESPN, than most UFC events, however, not to the level of coverage UFC 66 or UFC 71.

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