UFC on Versus 2: 991,000 Viewers
August 3, 2010
MMAPayout.com has learned that UFC on Versus 2 drew a .86HH on the strength of 991,000 average viewers on Sunday evening. These numbers are down by just over 20% from the UFC’s debut on Versus last March, which saw the UFC earn a 1.1 HH rating with 1.24 million viewers.
The numbers are not great, especially when you compare them to what the UFC does on Spike TV. The caliber of this fight card was pretty high and featured one of the brightest young stars in the game. It should have garnered a stronger result.
However, I’ll restate my position on the Versus experiment by saying that these ratings are a necessary short term consequence or sacrifice meant to bring about a long term gain. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor is a fan base. Versus gives the UFC exposure to a more sports-oriented consumer, which it will need, if it wants to achieve that true mass appeal equivalent to a Super Bowl.
The only true concern that I have is what kind of talking point, or lack thereof, this provides for the UFC when negotiating with major networks. I suspect executives will point to these first two cards as evidence that the UFC will not be as successful on mainstream television as it has been on Spike TV. While I don’t believe this to be true – nor does the UFC – it will still probably work against the UFC’s favor in the short run (making it harder for the UFC to secure something in the next little while).
At this point, I think the UFC has to sit down with Versus and come up with a new plan in terms of how it wants to reach this audience. If anything, it should prove to be excellent practice for the company at addressing a slightly different consumer. The company certainly won’t be able to target the mainstream audience with the same heavy metal, Affliction-wearing theme that it has the Spike crowd.