UFC Fight Night Prelim debut on ESPN draws huge ratings

January 23, 2019

The UFC Fight Night Prelims on Saturday drew 1.956 million viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  Even with a late start due to the college basketball overrun, the rating is the best Prelims ratings for an event.

The prelims saw 1.036 million viewers in the A18-49 demo and draw a 1.17 share of the overall audience according to Nielsen.  The feature bout of the prelims saw Donald Cerrone defeat Alexander Hernandez.

It was the debut of UFC on ESPN and it delivered with the best ratings for a prelim event ever.

On FS1, UFC Fight Night 124 Prelims drew 1.079 million viewers in 2018.  The prelims for UFC Fight Night 81 on FS1 in 2016 drew 1.767 million viewers.

The debut of UFC Fight Night drew 1.7 million viewers as it was the debut of the FS1 network.   The prelims, which was described as doing “25 times greater than SPEED/Fox Soccer/FUEL TV among both Adults 18-49 and Men 18-49, and 40 times greater among Adults 18-34 and M18-34,” were likely blown away by Saturday’s Prelim rating.

Payout Perspective:

The Duke-Virgina game drew over 3.5 million viewers on ESPN as the lead-in and went 13 minutes past the hour which likely helped the initial viewership.  Nothing was lost, as it was clear that the card was waiting for the TV audience.  One might expect a dramatic rise in viewership in events to come as ESPN has a much more robust audience and there are people that habitually leave the channel on ESPN as opposed to FS1 as the channel is much more predominant on the dial.

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