UFC debut on ESPN off to good start

January 20, 2019

ESPN announced that it has received over 568,000 subscribers of its ESPN+ service on Friday and Saturday in light of the UFC’s first show on the digital platform. It also announced big viewership numbers for Saturday’s event.

The $5 per month service stated it received 525,000 subscribers on Saturday alone.  It marks the biggest event on the digital platform and the largest subscription driver for the ESPN+ thus far.

The ESPN press release stated:

The UFC Fight Night on ESPN+ Prelims card aired on ESPN (English) and ESPN Deportes (Spanish) from 8:15 -10 p.m. ET. The telecast averaged a 1.4 metered market rating, making it the highest-rated UFC Fight Night Prelims on cable since at least 2013.

Web traffic saw more than 1.8 million unique viewers for MMA-related content across ESPN platforms.

Payout Perspective:

We should get more detailed viewership numbers later this week but its clear that the partnership should propel the UFC to more awareness from the casual fan.  ESPN promoted the UFC show during the ABC NBA game that afternoon as well as the Virginia-Duke game which preceded the UFC on ESPN.  There was an overrun between the two top-5 teams in the country which made MMA fans a little mad, but no one missed any fights.  The subscription numbers are interesting to see but retention numbers (the number of subscribers that retain the service after the free introduction) will be more important.

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