UFC Fight Night 1 on ESPN draws 1.463M viewers, Prelims 988,000

February 20, 2019

UFC Fight Night 1 on ESPN Sunday night drew 1.463 million viewers per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The prelims which preceded the main card drew 988,000 viewers.

It was the first event for the promotion with its new network partner as the prelims and main card were aired on ESPN.  The telecasts went up against the NBA All-Star Game coverage.  Per Nielsen, the TNT broadcast of the NBA All-Star Game drew 5.766 million viewers.  A secondary broadcast on TBS which aired at the same time as the TNT broadcast added another 1.031 million viewers.

The main card featured the return of former UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez as he fought Francis Ngannou.  Unfortunately, Cain went down early in the first round due to a combination of a punch by Ngannou and knee injury.  The prelims saw Aljamain Sterling take care of Jimmie Rivera in a matchup of bantamweights.

UFC on ESPN 1 took place at The Talking Stick Resort in Phoenix, Arizona.

Payout Perspective:

Another solid ratings performance by the UFC as it was the biggest UFC Fight Night ratings since January 2016.  The main card drew 760,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo while it drew 485,000 during the prelims.  In comparison, PBC on Fox Saturday night drew 378,000 in the A18-49 demo.  On Friday night, Top Rank Boxing on ESPN drew just 276,000 viewers.  The NBA All-Star game on TNT drew 3.124M viewers in the A18-49 demo.  The A18-49 demo for the main card is great news for the UFC as one has to imagine it will help them attract major brands to sponsor deals.

PBC on Fox draws 1.26M viewers opposite NBA All-Star Saturday night

February 20, 2019

PBC on Fox Saturday night drew a fast overnight rating of 1.26 million viewers according to Television By Numbers.  The telecast drew a 0.3 rating in the A18-49 demo and a 2 share.

In comparison, the NBA All-Star Saturday Night telecast drew over 5 million viewers and a 2.2 rating in the A18-49 demo in the same timeslot on TNT.

PBC on Fox featured Leo Santa Cruz as he defeated Rafael Rivera at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, California.  The fight featured an exciting exchange between the two.

It was the second PBC on Fox telecast as the new face of combat sports for the network.  In December it drew 1.69M viewers and a 0.5 in the A18-49 demo in fast overnights.

Payout Perspective:

The ratings were down from December as its clear that the NBA All-Star Saturday festivities drew a lot of the casuals away from the telecast.  Still, it appeared there was less run-up of this card as opposed to the last PBC on Fox where the Charlo brothers were heavily promoted.

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/15) outshines Bellator on Friday night

February 19, 2019

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN on February 15th drew 704,000 viewers per Nielsen according to ShowBuzz Daily.  The event featured Rob Brant as he scored an 11th round KO over the previously undefeated Khasan Bayasangurov.

The telecast peaked at 769,000 viewers and was likely aided by the lead-in of the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.

Live Boxing on ESPN 2019

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/2):  880,000 viewers

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/10):  655,000 viewers

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/15) 704,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

As we noted with the Bellator post, the ratings for Top Rank on ESPN Friday night well-exceeded its MMA competition on the Paramount Network.  As stated, the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game helped as a lead-in.  Of course, being on the main ESPN network also helps with just many having the network on as habit.

UFC Fight Night on ESPN 1 draws big ratings

February 18, 2019

ESPN reports that Sunday night’s UFC Fight Night on ESPN 1 drew a 1.1 metered market rating while the prelims drew a 0.7 rating. Overall, ESPN indicated that the five-hour window on ESPN drew an average of 0.9.

The partnership between the UFC and ESPN is going well for the promotion as through 3 linear television events, ESPN has aired the three highest-rated UFC telecasts on cable since the beginning of 2017.

Although the ratings will not come out until later this week, ESPN notes that the overnight ratings reflect that it’s the highest-rated UFC Fight Night on cable since UFC Fight Night 81 from January 2016. That event drew a 1.4 rating. The ratings drew an impressive 2.288 million viewers with the prelims posting 1.767 million on FS1.

While Sunday’s night event featuring a heavyweight matchup between Francis Ngannou and Cain Velasquez ended abruptly, it posted an impressive viewership rating. The Prelims which preceded the event also posted strong ratings.

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that there are more ESPN subscribers than there are FS1 subscribers which helps with viewership. Despite the NBA All-Star game on at the same time, the UFC did well as it was on the main network and other ESPN programming did not really interfere as the UFC was the main sport on Sunday night for the network.

Showtime Boxing (2-9) draws peak of 486K for main event

February 12, 2019

Saturday night’s Showtime Boxing event featuring Gervonta Davis’ one round decimation of Hugo Ruiz drew 429,000 viewers. The short fight peaked with 486,000 viewers.

Ruiz was a last-minute replacement for Abner Mares who had to pull out due to injury.

The co-main event of the telecast saw Mario Barrios KO Richard Zamora in the 4th round. The fight drew an average of 349,000 viewers. The opening fight of the three-fight telecast saw Javier Fortuna win a decision over Sharif Bogere. The 10 round bout drew 275,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

The event may have drawn more viewers if Mares did not have to withdraw due to an eye injury. The telecast was up against the UFC, NBA and the debuting Alliance of American Football which drew strong ratings on CBS.

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/10) draws 655,000 viewers

February 12, 2019

The ESPN airing of Top Rank Boxing on Sunday night drew 655,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.   The event drew 233,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo and drew a 0.44 share.

The event featured Jose Ramirez taking on Jose Zepeda with Ramirez winning and retaining his junior welterweight title via majority decision.

The telecast also featured an action-packed fight between Ray Beltran and Kiroki Okada with Beltran earning the ninth-round stoppage.

Payout Perspective:

The telecast was below average for viewership and vastly smaller than the UFC one day before.  With UFC airing this Sunday you might expect a big number but when boxing does return to TV on Sunday night’s it will be interesting to track.

UFC 234 Prelims score 1.339M viewers

February 12, 2019

The prelims for UFC 234 on ESPN drew 1.339 million viewers per Nielson via ShowBuzz Daily.  The event drew 684,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo.

It was the UFC’s second event aired on ESPN as part of the new deal beginning at the start of the year.  The featured bout of the evening saw Devonte Smith stop Dong Hyun Ma.

The event drew an overall share of 0.82.

In comparison, last year’s UFC 221 prelims which featured Dong Hyun Ma (once again) and Damien Brown drew 697,000 viewers with 110,000 in the A18-49 demo.

Payout Perspective:

It’s a small sample size but it’s clear that the ESPN relationship is helping the UFC with viewership.  Again, the Duke-Virginia college basketball game served as a lead-in with a slight overrun this time (about 2 mins), but it helped with viewership as the first fight of the prelims saw the peak for the telecast.

Strong ratings for UFC 234 Prelims on ESPN

February 10, 2019

The UFC 234 preliminaries drew a strong 1.0 metered market rating on ESPN and ESPN Deportes according to ESPN PR.  The initial ratings reveal it being the second highest-rated PPV prelims on record.

The UFC 234 PPV Prelims on ESPN and ESPN Deportes drew an average 1.0 meter market rating which is second to only the UFC 205 PPV Prelim in November 2016.  The ratings were up 100% from last February’s UFC 221 Prelims which was headlined by Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold.

The event peaked with a 1.7 metered market rating during the Ishihara-Kang fight.

Payout Perspective:

 The Ishihara-Kang fight was the first fight on the card which means that the lead-in Duke-Virginia (again) helped the broadcast.  The ratings will likely come out on Monday and rival UFC on ESPN +1 a couple weeks ago.  So far so good with the new partnership as the prelims to UFC events are hitting new highs.

Bellator announces deal with Sky Sports for live broadcasts in U.K. and Ireland

February 8, 2019

On Friday, Bellator announced a one-year deal with Sky Sports to air its events live in the U.K. and Ireland. The deal begins with Bellator 216 featuring Paul Daley and Michael Page.

According to the agreement, Bellator will air via the European TV station a minimum of 20 U.S. and International events in the U.K. and Ireland.  Bellator President Scott Coker called the deal, “groundbreaking.”

Sky Sports confirmed that Bellator 217-220 will air live.  Previously, Bellator events had been on tape delay to the chagrin of U.K. fans.  The deal was announced after a press conference earlier this week announced a deal with broadcaster Channel 5 to air its European series this Saturday in Newcastle, England.

Payout Perspective:

The only drawback I see for fans is the time difference in which U.S. events take place.  But for the U.K. fans its better to stay up and watch rather than hear it on social media or wait for the tape delay.  The good news is that there is a level of interest that appears to be rising.

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN (2/2) draws 880,000 viewers

February 5, 2019

Top Rank Boxing airing on ESPN Saturday night drew 880,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The event, which included preliminary bouts to the main event of Sergey Kovalev and Eleider Alvarez, peaked at 1.022 million viewers.

On the network telecast Oscar Valdez defeated Carmine Tommasone via 7th round stoppage.  The opening bout featured Richard Comney defeating Isa Chaniev in just two rounds.

The event was bifurcated as the UFC’s debut on ESPN+ was split with prelims on the digital platform followed by the network portion followed by the main event airing once again on ESPN+.

As reported by Boxing Scene, ESPN Deportes averaged 122,000 viewers for the two-fight telecast as it peaked with 169,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

Near 1 million viewers tuned in Saturday night for two prelim fights on ESPN.  The bookending of the card seems to be aiding its digital platform despite the gamble of confusing the viewer. The move for ESPN to air more combat sports will see an adjustment for the traditional sports viewer but its clear that there is an audience that wants to watch

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