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.

Payout Perspective:

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.

21 Responses to “UFC on Versus 2: 991,000 Viewers”

  1. Stan Kosek on August 3rd, 2010 9:47 AM

    after an OK rated season of TUF and very good buyrates this is something they need to address… the audience is obviously still there, but maybe Vs. or the marketing isn’t reaching it.

  2. Tweets that mention UFC on Versus 2: 991,000 Viewers : MMAPayout.com: The Business of MMA -- Topsy.com on August 3rd, 2010 9:48 AM

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Luke Thomas, MMA Payout and mma.ly, Jordan Breen. Jordan Breen said: RT @MMAPayoutdotcom: UFC on Versus 2 draws .86HH on 991k viewers. Disappointing, but Versus remains a long-term play: http://tinyurl.com/2bs5z64 #UFC [...]

  3. Machiel Van on August 3rd, 2010 10:42 AM

    This makes me wonder how the WEC would perform on Spike TV if they ended their relationship with Versus.

  4. UFC on Versus 2 averages 991,000 viewers for August 1 event | UFC Insider on August 3rd, 2010 10:55 AM

    [...] August 1, was viewed by an average of 991,000 fight fans with a .86 HH rating according to MMA Payout. In comparison, the UFC’s debut on Versus back in March earned a 1.1 HH rating with 1.24 [...]

  5. Adam Swift on August 3rd, 2010 10:59 AM

    I would bet this number is in-line with the Spike numbers when factoring in the difference in avg. prime time audience for each network.

  6. Kelsey Philpott on August 3rd, 2010 11:10 AM

    It’s possible. I still think part of the hang-up is the WEC’s Faber-Brown doing 1.3 million viewers last June. More evidence to suggest the importance of draws is growing; Jones for all his potential star power still isn’t a Urijah.

  7. Jose Mendoza on August 3rd, 2010 12:40 PM

    1) Spike TV is synonymous with UFC: Fans already have to find out when a card is on Spike or when it’s on PPV. I don’t think many knew there were fights on Versus, and I know several fans who thought the fight were on Spike that day before having to go search around to find that it was on Versus. Completely different viewers between the two channels.

    2) With so much MMA now available on TV, events really need big names on the card to get ratings and attention, to be able to differentiate themselves from all other MMA programming. Vlad and Jones are not draws and I saw more advertising done for Silva vs Sonnen than I saw for this Versus card.

    3) It was televised on a Sunday night, which is different than the typical Saturday night MMA event.

  8. UFC on Versus 2: 991000 Viewers : MMAPayout.com: The Business of MMA | UFC Challenge on August 3rd, 2010 12:58 PM

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  9. UFC on Versus 2: 991000 Viewers : MMAPayout.com: The Business of MMA | UFC SHARK STORE on August 3rd, 2010 5:37 PM

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  10. UFC on Versus 2 averages 991,000 viewers for August 1 event | MMA England on August 3rd, 2010 5:43 PM

    [...] of 991,000 fight fans with a .86 HH rating according to MMA Payout. In comparison, the UFC’s debut on Versus back in March [...]

  11. Versus UFC show from San Diego draws awful ratings | FightOpinion.com – Your Global Connection to the Fight Industry. on August 3rd, 2010 10:48 PM

    [...] UFC on Versus 2 draws 0.86 cable rating [...]

  12. BrainSmasher on August 4th, 2010 12:16 AM

    I wonder if the direct tv fiasco played a part in the numbers. I know i have watched Verses in a while until the other night and to my surprise it was now located in the 600′s when all the rest of my available programs are 200-330. It didnt used to be that channel. One of the complaint Verses had with DTV was less viewers in their tier program and less people stumbling apon them with such an odd channel placement. It appears their fears were not without merit.

    The UFC should have still drew their bare minimum fan base they seen on unleashed, countdowns, and reruns. That is not the case. Their fan base could not find them it seems. This is no fault of Verses. They did a great job of post fight interviews and event breakdown with a healthy amount of time contributes to the UFC. It reminds me of ESPN type treatment they give to large sporting events.

    As bad as the numbers were it was still much better than anything else Vs has. So it was smart of them to do a post event show to keep those viewers maximizing their partnership with the UFC. Let the 2 hour show bring high ratings for 4 hours.

    If DTV is the reason for the ratings drop i am not sure what the solution is. There isn’t much they can do. I know one thing. I flick through the channels a lot looking for something to watch and i never come no where near channel 600.

  13. Diego on August 4th, 2010 7:10 AM

    I think Adam Swift’s comment is probably right. The problem as I see it is with Vs as a channel. They do: hockey, hunting/fishing, rodeo, bike riding and MMA. Those fan bases are mutually exclusive, so if you’re advertising the WEC or UFC during the Tour de France, you’re not generating much interest with fans of bike racing. That leaves only hard core fans of any of those sports watching at any given time; no one else is going to be flipping through the channel.

    Spike on the other hand is like a men’s magazingebrought to cable. All of their shows hit the same fan base – which just happens to be the ultra-lucrative young male demographic. What the UFC has with Spike is equal doses smart, lucky and very tough to replicate. They have managed to lock down THE premier channel for MMA. I don’t think they could get those kinds of ratings on any other channel on the dial. They may be able to generate higher total viewership on a primetime network, but I doubt they would get a better rating.

    The results from Vs are probably what can be expected if you put the UFC on FSN, G4, ESPN or any other cable channel. I think they can still do a lot to improve their ratings, but I don’t think they will ever match what they are doing on Spike.

  14. Diego on August 4th, 2010 7:13 AM

    I take back what I said about ESPN – the UFC may be able to generate a higher rating there just because of the brand recognition of that particular channel which I am guessing does higher ratings than Spike.

  15. Kelsey Philpott on August 4th, 2010 7:13 AM

    Ever is a very long time.

  16. Machiel Van on August 4th, 2010 8:18 AM

    Comcast just reorganized their channel lineup, with VS now being shoved right above ESPN in the guide list (it was previously all the way at the back of the lineup). Interesting move.

  17. mmaguru on August 4th, 2010 8:47 AM

    Lot’s of salient talking points in the article and the comments. I would simply chalk this up to the MMA market plateauing (for the time being). Without a “sideshow” fight or big name fighter, we should consider this a respectable number. It appears to be around 200% to 300% increase of the WEC numbers sans Faber. The fans that care about everything “UFC” were watching.

    There seems to be a false sense of expectations that if the UFC was on one of the big 4 cable companies that they would shatter viewer records across the board. I would not be to sure about that. Strikeforce on CBS gives us a good gauge of what to expect. Put on a big name star or “sideshow” fighter with general appeal you’ll do fine, put anything else on and your numbers will dwindle.

    MMA/UFC will never be mainstream in the sense of how we view the major sports leagues such as the NFL, NBA, MLB or sports like Golf, Nascar, Tennis, etc.. It’s just not going to happen. MMA/UFC business model will always fall in line with either boxing or wrestling models which are rather cyclical in nature and depend more on big stars for growth periods.

  18. Meh card does meh on August 4th, 2010 10:32 AM

    [...] now, analysis and hand wringing! MMA Payout: The numbers are not great, especially when you compare them to what the UFC does on Spike TV. The [...]

  19. marty michaels on August 4th, 2010 11:49 AM

    the post show on Versus didnt hold any of the fight ratings….did a .29 in M18-49, .38 in M18-34 and 247k viewers…dropped by almost 70 per cent…

  20. Diego on August 4th, 2010 12:46 PM

    I just think that their ROI is higher on Spike because of the specifics of that channel. It would take a much higher investment in any other channel to get the same return. Can they match it? Sure, if they want to throw massive resources behind their shows. But those same resources would get them even better returns on Spike.

    I don’t know if a head to head comparison between shows on different networks is warranted. I’m more interested in how the UFC and WEC are doing vis a vis other shows on Vs.

  21. UFC on Versus 2 averages 991,000 viewers for August 1 event | MMA Fight News - MMA News, MMA Gear, MMA Training on August 5th, 2010 11:04 AM

    [...] August 1, was viewed by an average of 991,000 fight fans with a .86 HH rating according to MMA Payout. In comparison, the UFC’s debut on Versus back in March earned a 1.1 HH rating with 1.24 [...]

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