UFC on Fox 2 Averages 4.66 Million, Peaks at 6 Million

January 31, 2012

Saturday night’s UFC on FOX  2 event from the United Center in Chicago posted a 2.6/5 national rating/share, averaging 4.66M viewers and peaking at just over 6 million according to figures released by Nielsen Media Research today.

Fox Sports Media Group Ratings Press Release:

As expected, FOX dominated the night on the important younger demographics. FOX’s 2.4 among Adults 18-49 nearly beat the combined ratings of ABC, CBS, and NBC (2.5 combined) and FOX’s 2.5 among Adults 18-34 easily beat those three network competitors combined (1.4). The three-bout broadcast on FOX averaged 4.7 million viewers from 8:00 PM – 10:19 PM ET.

The two-hour event, the first official network broadcast of FOX’s partnership with UFC, is off slightly (-16%) from the UFC on FOX premiere in November (3.1/5), which was only one hour and featured a highly-anticipated heavyweight championship fight. When comparing similar time periods for the two events, FOX posted a 3.0/5 from 9:00 – 10:15 PM ET, off only a tenth from the November UFC fight.

In several meaningful demographics, the last hour of Saturday’s broadcast rated higher than November’s UFC premiere on FOX with Men 25-49 up +3%, Men 25-54 up +3%, Men 35-54 up +4%.

As anticipation to the night’s main event grew so did the ratings and viewership. The night’s first match between Demian Maia and Chris Weidman scored a 2.2/4 rating/share. The next fight between Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping grew to a 2.7/5. Fans tuned in to see former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans take on undefeated former national champion wrestler Phil Davis with that bout posting a 3.4/6. More than 6 million viewers watched the five-round bout where Evans defeated Davis by unanimous decision

The top five metered markets for Saturday’s UFC on FOX event are: Las Vegas – 4.1/8; Louisville – 4.1/7; Indianapolis – 3.9/7; Greenville – 3.9/6; Tulsa – 3.9/6; and Knoxville – 3.9/6.

***

Loretta Hunt of SI.com has more information on the ratings:

The 2-hour and 19-minute broadcast, which started at 8 p.m. EST (5 p.m. PST), peaked with an average 6.080 million viewers (from 10 to 10:19 p.m.) during the five-round main event pitting former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans against Phil Davis.

Last November, the first one-hour UFC telecast on FOX garnered an average 5.675 million viewers for a 3.1 household rating. It peaked with 8.802 million viewers during the 64-second heavyweight championship bout between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos, making it the most watched fight ever (live or taped).

 

Ratings by Half-hour Blocks:

– UFC on FOX 2 (8:00 pm-8:30 pm): 3.43 million viewers

-UFC on FOX 2 (8:30 pm-9:00 pm): 3.98 million viewers

-UFC on FOX 2 (9:00 pm-9:30 pm): 4.67 million viewers

-UFC on FOX 2 (9:30 pm-10:00 pm): 5.66 million viewers

Overall: An average of 4.66M (peak of 6.08M) viewers watched the fight live or via DVR playback within the same day.

 

Payout Perspective:

Compared to the first UFC on FOX event (5.67M average viewers with a peak of 8.8M), this show (4.66M average viewers with a peak of 6.08M) fell short of those numbers despite having an extra hour of air time and three total fights, instead of just one with only seconds of actual fight time.  In fact, this event fell in line with previous MMA telecasts that have aired on CBS. The fact that there was over 2 hours of MMA action (11 rounds total) and no exciting back-and-forth’s or finishes to get the fans and crowd involved really hurt the energy of the event.  After casual fans complained that there was plenty of hype for only seconds of fighting, they now got the other extreme.

The top five metered markets for Saturday’s UFC on FOX event were Las Vegas (4.1/8), Louisville (4.1/7), Indianapolis (3.9/7), Greenville (3.9/6), Tulsa (3.9/6), and Knoxville (3.9/6). It’s interesting to point out that best markets in terms of national TV have not always been the best markets for PPV.  The only west coast market here is Las Vegas, but other markets such as Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Houston, and Hawaii have historically been top PPV markets but did not make the list here on free national TV.

Notable to point out the counter-programming efforts here by Spike TV, who averaged 828K viewers for a “UFC Fight Night” replay and “UFC Unleashed” episodes that aired from 7-11 p.m. ET/PT. Those episodes featured fighters that were fighting on the UFC on FOX 2 event, which most likely created some fan confusion, but on the other hand, gave those FOX viewers an option to tune in to another channel to watch the same product and see some exciting finishes and fights.  By looking at the ratings Spike TV has achieved counter-programming UFC on FOX and UFC on FX specials, MMA fans who have become MMA fans by watching Spike TV are still in fact tuning in.

14 Responses to “UFC on Fox 2 Averages 4.66 Million, Peaks at 6 Million”

  1. Sampson Simpson on January 31st, 2012 8:52 PM

    The product is limited. All the marketing in the world can’t save this faulty product from gaining mainstream acceptance.

    Maybe they should just change the rules of the UFC.

    No wrestling, no holding, no clinching, no ground game… make it into boxing with small gloves.

  2. Weezy on February 1st, 2012 3:01 AM

    While combat sports does a ceiling for how popular it can become in our culture, I never would have thought it is as high as it appears to be. Several years ago when this sport was playing in front of small venues in Alabama and only a few commissions sanctioned it, I would have thought you crazy to assert that it would one day have a network television deal and finish second in its timeslot (narrowly to “CSI”) and first overall by far in the 18-49 year old demographic. When looking at FOX’s $95 million/year investment, here’s something to keep in mind. A significant percentage of their annual investment is already covered. Upon announcing the deal, FUEL TV subscriptions jumped 20% (from 30 million to 36 million). If the network keeps only $0.75 per month (my cost is about $5.00 for month for a cable tier package that includes it and I figure that after the carrier’s cut, FUEL sees at least that month per month), that’s $9 per year. Extrapolated out that’s $54 million per year. And it’s likely that as long as UFC is involved with the FOX family of networks this income will continue from these subscribers. Think about that. $54 million per year for the life of the contract is covered right out of the gate just by an initial boom of subscribers to FUEL TV. Never mind the upcoming ratings for The Ultimate Fighter on FX or the numerous other live programming annually. The indications I’ve seen point to the fact that FOX will re-up and extend the contract to a longer agreement toward the end of the third year (2014). FOX is very happy with their investment and it is only very partially due to the November and January network shows.

  3. Diego on February 1st, 2012 7:35 AM

    Sampson,

    How would that help? Boxing isn’t in the mainstream either these days. Most nights MMA, specifically the UFC, beats boxing in both ratings and PPV draws. MMA is MMA and boxing is boxing. I like both, I don’t need to see one become the other.

    Some fights are exciting despite taking place on the ground, some fights are boring despite taking place on the feet. I’ve seen plenty of boxing snoozers – more than I’ve seen in MMA in fact.

    If MMA doesn’t get mainstream acceptance – whatever that means – then so be it. I think Saturday represents a success. Fox captured all the key demos and beat their usual ratings for that timeslot. I’m sure they crushed their usual ratings on Fuel as well with the Prelims (are those #s available?) I would like to know what metrics Fox is using to judge success. What kinds of ratings on Fuel, FX and Fox justify the $100M price tag?

    I know that Dana wants to be the biggest sport in the world, but having a $100M p.a. contract on network Television is already a huge success. Maybe that can be increased to $150M or $200M in the future, it doesn’t have to be the billions of the NFL in order for the sport to thrive.

    If the ceiling for MMA is $100M contract on network TV and 5-10M PPV buys per year for the lead promotion and a smattering of smaller promotions also eking out a living on basic cable, that’s not bad. And it’s sustainable. I think the sport will continue to grow, though at lower rates than in the past 10 years. I don’t know where it will end up, but I like where it is now – pulling in top athletes and allowing them to compete.

  4. assassin on February 1st, 2012 11:55 AM

    Weezy, I could not quite follow your number logic. But yes, the largest part of the value is to increase Fuel in both number of households, rate per subscriber from the cable/dish companies, and increase add revenue. I believe they are well on there way to achieving all 3 goals. # households now 36 million, my guess is goal is 100 million by year 7; I have no info on rate per subscriber, but the more people want it and higheer ratings then yes rate/subscriber will increase — another piece is getting them moved off of premium tiers to standard tiers to drive # households; Fuel was the lowest rated channel at 15k viewers/hour and MMA is blowing the doors of those numbers. Plus much of the content is free (old pride, Reloaded PPVs, and Unleashed) or low cost (weigh-in, UFC tonight, prelims, specials (primetime, post fight shows, bad blood, Ultimate Knockouts, etc).

    Sampson,
    Changing the rules (Unified Rules) could result in some backlash from hardcore fans, but bring in more casual fans. Many I have tried to get interested in the sport also do not like the wrestling or hand-fighting on the cage. Some things they might consider are \: 1) No covering the mouth of your opponent when on the ground; 2) No intentionally putting your hand on the ground while standing (to prevent knees, this hurts wrestlers on failed shots); Quicker breaks on the cage if you cannot gain a dominant position or takedown (you can go minutes of handfighting, footstops, and trying to lock hands for a takedown, or knees to the thigh); and allowing upkicks from the bottom to the head of the opponent who is on top of you. Lastly, the refs need to be more vigilant in instructing the top fighter to “get busy” or “improve position” and stand up the fighters if they don’t comply.

    Diego,
    I think, do not know, that the long term goal for the UFC could be to have the majority of their fight cards on free TV (via Fox multiple platforms) and maybe having only a few or no PPV per year. This would obvisouly require higher rights fees and ability to put on a card nearly every week. This is not a near term goal, but long term goal as PPV model does not seem to work in the rest of the world.

    Just my opinions. INterested to hear your thoughts.

  5. JamesG on February 1st, 2012 1:12 PM

    Here’s viewership and fee info on Fuel as of December.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203686204577117044012273540.html

    “News Corp., whose cable channels include Fox News and FX, owns an extreme-sports channel called Fuel TV, which averaged about 14,000 prime-time viewers in 2011 but drew an average of 14 cents a month from about 36 million homes.”

  6. Jose Mendoza on February 1st, 2012 1:49 PM

    Thanks James. Good find.

  7. Weezy on February 1st, 2012 3:57 PM

    Thanks, James. Cool article. So if $0.14 is the take by FUEL, then the additional 6 million subscribers that have joined since the announcement of the Zuffa deal represent over $10 million per year in added revenue. Here’s something else to keep in mind. The tier package I bought feaures FUEL and a few other FOX sports owned channels (FOX Atlantic, FOX Central and FOX Pacific). If each one of those also gets roughly he same amount, you’re talking about $0.56 per month to FOX from just my subscription. That’s $6.72 per year from just me. Extrapolate that out to 6 million new subscribers and it equates to $40,320,000 annually in increased revenue. Again, that’s all from just the new subscribers that signed up in the months following the announcement. The scary thing is that they’re not done adding new subscribers yet. Later this month ZUFFA will hold their first card shown exclusively on FUEL. Once a few of those occur you can count on some more new subscribers joining them. I’ll be surprised if FUEL finishes 2012 with less than 38 million subscribers. That’s some big-time immediate gain from the deal with ZUFFA.

  8. Weezy on February 1st, 2012 4:24 PM

    Just found this:

    http://allthingsd.com/20100308/hate-paying-for-cable-heres-the-reason-why/

    This is from 2009 but also reflects the $0.14 per subscriber for FUEL. It also shows $0.34 per subscriber for FOX College Sports. That’s also included in the tier package I have through TWC. If this list is accurate it could seriously adjust up the $40 million total additional revenue per year to FOX I mentioned above. Here is a sample of a Comcast sports package that includes FUEL:

    “NEW! Digital Sports Package will include:
    College Sports Television, channel 175 Digital Plus Tier to channel 735 Digital Sports Package
    Fox College Sports Atlantic, channel 171 Digital Plus Tier to channel 723 Digital Sports Package
    Fox College Sports Central, channel 172 Digital Plus Tier to channel 724 Digital Sports Package
    Fox College Sports Pacific, channel 173 Digital Plus Tier to channel 725 Digital Sports Package
    FUEL TV, channel 123 Digital Plus Tier to channel 740 Digital Sports Package”

    In the above example, you’ll see how tons of fans that have Comcast and just want to see the UFC on FUEL would also be purchasing all of these FOX subscriptions. The total annual revenue from these subscriptions means many millions of additional dollars going into the FOX coiffers every year. Not saying FOX Sports headquarters is planning a parade for ZUFFA or anything but I’ll wager anyone that FOX re-ups the deal long before it expires. Watch and see. 2014 won’t be over before the first extension is announced.

  9. BrainSmasher on February 1st, 2012 4:37 PM

    It will be important to see how many usbscribers Fuel gets. If they get over $50 millionwhich i think will happen within a year or so due to the UFC. One has to wonder at what point does Fuel make more money. Off suscriptions or Ad revenue? If getting on a lower tier doesnt hugely increase ratings i think Fuel would rather gets the subscription fee and take the hit on total viewers. HBO and Showtime make more money now than if they were free and getting more viewers. I would like to know how many subscribers it takes to be worth more than being in 100 million homes and getting 1.5 million viewers? Is it 50 million subscriptions? 70 million? At some point Fuel will be able to go to the cable providers and demand more money. If they are getting that many to subscribe to this package they will want Fuel to stay as a subscription rather than lose it. There for giving a higher rate per subscriber.

    Weezy

    In addition to the numbers you have that Fuel has made due to the UFC. Think of the higher add prices they can get with higher viewership. They might not be able to demand higher rates now.but im sure the network is more appealing now and a easier sell. But if it keeps increasing they can demand a higher price. Especially if the numbers are good in the key demographics.

  10. Weezy on February 1st, 2012 5:24 PM

    Brainsmasher, good point. Just guessing about advertising costs but, hypothetically, if a 30 second national primetime ad cost $5,000 last year on FUEL when they were getting 35,000 viewers, ad space on a UFC prelims event where they’re getting four times that would really begin to add up.And you’re right, with an increasing subscription base there will, eventually, come increased leverage.

  11. Weezy on February 1st, 2012 7:05 PM

    Interesting article here details ad revenue and subscriber revenue for FUEL in 2010.

  12. Weezy on February 1st, 2012 7:05 PM

    Interesting article here details ad revenue and subscriber revenue for FUEL in 2010.

    http://www.adweek.com/news/television/olivares-motors-away-fuel-tv-131032

  13. Sampson Simpson on February 3rd, 2012 10:10 AM

    @Diego

    Boxing isn’t popular in the states due to barriers to entry for the viewer to watch.

    All domestic top level fights are on HBO, Showtime and PPV.

  14. Assassin on February 3rd, 2012 10:31 AM

    This is my estimation on how the $95MM contract by Fox for the UFC stacks up.
    As you can, see future increases in ad revenue and subscribers will make this hugely more profitable in yrs 2+ as year 1 is breakeven. I estimated $50MM as value to Fox based on the old Spike and VS deals, but it could actually be higher.

    Value of UFC deal to Fox

    Fox 4 cards
    2 hours/card (originally 1 hour or 1.5 hours)
    16 commercial minutes/hour
    170000 rate per commercial *85k/30 seconds)
    $21,760,000

    FX $50,000,000 6 cards (Spike + VS), 2 TUF seasons, Prelims

    Fuel 6,000,000 Additional subscribers
    0.14 rate/subscriber/month
    12 12 months
    $10,080,000

    Advertising Revenue
    $12,534,247 2,000 hours of UFC programming
    $22,614,247 Total Incremental Fuel Revenue

    Advertising revenue calcs for Fuel
    $18,300,000 2010 add revenue
    365 days/yr
    24 hours day
    8760 programming hours
    $2,089 Ad rev/hour
    UFC programming 2-4x viewershio
    2 4
    $4,178 $8,356 advertising reve/hr of programming
    2000 2000 hours of programming (assumes 45k-60k average viewership)
    $8,356,164 $16,712,329

    above used the mid-point of 3x over historic ad revenue

    $94,374,247 Total Value

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