Top 2011 MMA Television Ratings (So Far)

October 4, 2011

On November 12th, the UFC’s debut on FOX will no doubt break the television ratings record for 2011, and quite possibly the all-time record of 4.3 million viewers held by Elite XC on CBS, which is to-date the most watched MMA event in history.

So far in 2011 (as of October 4th), the UFC’s March 26th Fight Night 24 broadcast on Spike TV featuring Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Phil Davis is the ratings leader with 2.2 million viewers. It was the highest rated event since the September 2009 broadcast of UFC Fight Night 19: Diaz vs. Guillard, which had 2.5 million viewers.

The February 5th UFC 126 Prelims, also broadcast on Spike TV comes in second with 2 million viewers. The televised fights included Donald Cerrone vs. Paul Kelly and Chad Mendes vs. Michihiro Omigawa. The event coincided with the UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort Pay-Per-View.

The third ranked televised event was UFC Fight for the Troops 2, that took place January 22nd on Spike TV and was headlined by Melvin Guillard vs. Evan Dunham and co-headlined by Matt Mitrione vs. Tim Hague. The event garnered an audience of 1.85 million viewers.

I also gave Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva an honorable mention. The event, which was broadcast February 12th on Showtime only chalked up 741,000 viewers, however, Showtime is only available to 1/4 of the households Spike TV is in. This event was watched by 2.98% of Showtimes total available viewership as opposed to UFC’s number 1 event seen by 2.20% of Spike TV’s total viewership.

It’s no surprise that the top rated MMA television shows all were broadcast on Spike TV, a network that’s in close to 100 million (99,947,000) households, which has 86% market coverage in the United States. The UFC’s other broadcast partner, Versus, is in approximately 76 million households (66% coverage). MMA programming on Versus only broke the 1 million viewer mark three times since 2008, UFC on Versus 1: Vera vs Jones, WEC 34 and WEC 41. It will be very interesting to see what happens in terms of ratings, when the UFC moves to FOX in just over a month.


UFC Fight Night: Nogueira vs. Davis
March 26, 2011
Viewers: 2,200,000
2.20% of total Spike TV Households (99,947,000)

UFC 126 Prelims
February 5th, 2011
Viewers: 2,000,000
2.00% of Spike TV Households (99,947,000)

UFC Fight For the Troops 2
January 22nd, 2011
Viewers: 1,850,000
1.85% of Spike TV Households (99,947,000)

Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva
February 12th, 2011
Viewers: 741,000
2.98% of Showtime Households (24,833,000)

SafeAuto Insurance commercial features Clay Guida

July 8, 2011

Clay Guida is featured in a SafeAuto Insurance television commercial. Guida, playing himself, “convinces” an uninsured driver sign up for SafeAuto.


(H/t:  MMA Mania)

Payout Perspective:

Its been a pretty big year for SafeAuto Insurance in its first year of sponsoring fighters in the UFC as well as its signage making appearances in the UFC octagon. Its stable of UFC fighters continues to expand with Clay Guida being one of the most popular fighters wearing the SA logo. The commercial is great for the sponsor as well as plays up the humorous side of Guida’s personality. With his trademark hair, Guida seemed like a natural in the commercial. This could mean more opportunities outside of the Octagon for “The Carpenter.”

SafeAuto Insurance is an example of how a mainstream company has taken advantage of its sponsorship with the UFC. Not only is it sponsoring fighters and the UFC, but it is integrating this into its advertising.

UFC 129 Prelims: 1.5 million viewers

May 3, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that the UFC 129 Prelims scored a strong 1.5 million viewers on Spike TV.  The prelims aired an hour earlier due to the change in the PPV start time. 

Via MMA Junkie:

The ratings were up solidly from UFC 128’s ” UFC Prelims” special, which netted 1.3 million viewers. The UFC 129 special also earned a 1.3 rating among men 18-49 and 1.5 among men 18-34. Both were tops in their timeslot among cable stations.

The prelims rank fourth out of the 18 UFC Prelims broadcast. UFC 126 (February 2011) tops the list with an average of 2 million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

Despite the time change, the prelim rating was solid. The show itself featured two great bouts. The success of the UFC Prelims could be the hype for the largest show in the UFC history. Still, the UFC Prelims were sandwiched between the Facebook fights and the main card and did very well.

Fight Camp 360 on CBS: 0.3 rating

May 1, 2011

Television by the Numbers reports that the third and final episode of Fight Camp 360: Pacquiao vs. Mosley airing on CBS on Saturday received a lowly 0.3 rating for the 18-49 adult demographic. The one hour special ended the trilogy of episodes hyping the bout next Saturday night.

The first and third episodes ran on CBS. The first episode garnered a 0.5 rating for a Saturday morning time slot. The second episode, as with all three episodes, ran on Showtime.

NASCAR on Fox running opposite Fight Camp received 1.5/1.6 rating winning the time slots (8-8:30 and 8:30-9pm) for the evening. Also, UFC 129 could have taken away some fight fans from the broadcast.

Payout Perspective:

I doubt that the poor ratings will impact the PPV buy rate simply because Manny Pacquiao is a huge draw and, unlike MMA PPVs, big boxing events are few and far between per year. Thus, the casual boxing fan would be more likely to drop $65 on the PPV. Nevertheless, one might argue that the past-his-prime Mosley will not be a challenge for Pacquiao. As the Fight Camp series shows, Pacquiao seems focused and ready for this fight.

 In my opinion, I was impressed with the Fight Camp series. It was more of a vehicle for Pacquiao than it introduced Mosley to the audience. While HBO 24/7 infused a blaring soundtrack and narrator to move the viewer along, Fight Camp let the characters tell the story. There was less of an emphasis to create a storyline (i.e., internal struggles in the Pacquiao camp) and more on showing the behind-the-scenes of each camp. It also seemed as though Pacquiao was comfortable in front of the camera which helped. Also, the old footage of a young Pacquiao (and young Buboy) was interesting to see.

Bellator 42 ratings: 199,000 viewers

April 26, 2011

MMA Junkie reports Bellator rebounded from its worst ratings of the season hitting an average of 199,000 for its Easter weekend offering. Bellator 42 on MTV2 included a solid 180,000 viewers for its replay.

Via MMA Junkie:

In addition to the 199,000 viewers who tuned in for the live broadcast, 180,000 tuned in for an immediate replay on MTV2. That’s a 59 percent increase over Bellator 41, which drew 132,000 for the first airing and 107,000 for the replay.

 The first-run season-four ratings include:

  • Bellator 35 ratings: 200,000 viewers
  • Bellator 36 ratings: 230,000
  • Bellator 37 ratings: 173,000
  • Bellator 38 ratings: 150,000
  • Bellator 39 ratings: 174,000
  • Bellator 40 ratings: 218,000
  • Bellator 41 ratings: 132,000
  • Bellator 42 ratings: 199,000

Payout Perspective:

The yo-yo continues for Bellator ratings. It’s a pleasant surprise considering the Easter holiday and the fact that Bellator was going up against another boxing event on Showtime. Bellator head Bjorn Rebney has maintained that the ratings will eventually come with the goal of establishing its core audience. He also stated that MTV execs are happy with the overall viewership for its Saturday night time slot.

TapouT introduces new phone

April 18, 2011

TapouT is partnering with MetroPCS in rolling out a new “Tapout”-edition Huawei Ascend cell phone. The phone includes preloaded virtual training ceneter videos and wallpaper.

To promote its release, TapouT is traveling cross-country and blogging about its journey. Here is its visit to ATT.

The TapouT crew visits American Top Team Gym in Coconut Creek Florida from Sanctioned by TapouT on Vimeo.


The Huawei Ascend’s Tapout edition will be available within the next few weeks, MetroPCS said in a statement. The Tapout Ascend will cost $199 with $50 instant rebate, and that’s without a contract. In addition, two mixed-martial-arts fighters, will visit select MetroPCS stores to promote the handset and the Tapout brand. MetroPCS is offering an additional 20 percent off of Tapout merchandise and a free trip for those who buy the phone.

Payout Perspective:

This past weekend we featured an MMA phone app and today is an MMA-themed phone. Its another sign of the burgeoning popularity of MMA as it moves into different markets. The promotional tour is an interesting idea as the TapouT guys travel around to promote the phone and visit MMA gyms. The tour is reminiscent of Tapout’s show on Versus in 2007-2008.

UFC Primetime: St. Pierre vs. Shields nets 610,000 viewers

April 15, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that the debut telecast of UFC Primetime: St. Pierre vs. Shields received 610,000 viewers. The first of three original episodes, the show accompanies The Ultimate Fighter as part of Spike TV’s Wednesday night’s lineup.

Via MMA Junkie:

The debut episode of “UFC Primetime: St-Pierre vs. Shields” earned the smallest audience to date for a first episode of the “UFC Primetime” series.

The full list of debut episode audience size for the series, as compiled by, includes:

  • “UFC Primetime: Rampage vs. Evans” (UFC 114): 1,200,000 viewers
  • “UFC Primetime: St-Pierre vs. Hardy” (UFC 111): 1,000,000 viewers
  • “UFC Primetime: Lesnar vs. Velasquez” (UFC 121): 974,000 viewers
  • “UFC Primetime: St-Pierre vs. Penn II” (UFC 94): 880,000 viewers
  • “UFC Primetime: St-Pierre vs. Shields” (UFC 129): 610,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

Disappointing ratings considering St. Pierre’s previous ratings success with UFC Primetime. The numbers are lower than its lead-in, TUF, as episode 3 garnered 1.3 million viewers. However, with the record setting attendance at the event, it seems that the Primetime ratings will not correlate with the actual financial success of the event.

WWE’s Jim Ross sums up what may be the sentiments of many that watched the Primetime episode Wednesday (H/t: Bloody Elbow):

Watched the GSP-Jake Shields 30 minute UFC Prime time special Thursday night. It was OK but not a compelling show largely in part to both fighters being somewhat low key and remaining professional. I’m going to buy the PPV nonetheless from Toronto but the TV special, while having good production values and being well edited, felt sort of like a  nice bowl of oatmeal with nothing on it. 

Tough Enough ratings: 3.3 million viewers

April 6, 2011

WWE’s Monday night debut of its resurrected reality show, Tough Enough, received a huge audience of 3.3 million viewers. The reality show featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin has 14 individuals competing for a WWE contract.


WWE TOUGH ENOUGH is #2 new reality series premiere of the year on cable in P18-49 and P18-34.

  •  P18-49: 1.969 million
  • P25-54: 1.714 million
  • Total Viewers:  3.326 million
  • P18-34: 1.064 million

The numbers equate to a 2.6 rating. MMA Mania compares these numbers to TUF’s premiere last week.  TUF 13’s debut featuring former WWE star Brock Lesnar garnered 1.5 million viewers for a 1.0 rating.

Payout Perspective:

Before we go too far with the numbers, as the MMA Mania post points out, the TE debut came after Monday Night Raw (after Sunday’s Wrestlemania). Usually MNR after Wrestlemania’s do well due to the momentum of Sunday’s big show. The Rock-John Cena confrontation was last on MNR and ran over into TE time so there was likely spillover viewers.

But, it will be interesting to track these two shows at it goes forward. Most of TE’s contestants do not seem like people with long-term aspirations of being pro wrestlers (in fact, one of the contestants was/is a MMA fighter) but reality stars whereas the TUF cast seem dedicated to being fighters. So, TE’s cast may have more personality than TUF’s cast. Of course, we haven’t seen too much from TUF’s cast yet. We will see what is more watchable and what will draw viewers. TE may have an advantage here as MNR is the lead-in to TE whereas TUF is the lead-in to Spike’s new reality series “Coal”.

Its official: UFC purchases Strikeforce

March 14, 2011

The UFC acquisition of Strikeforce was offically announced this morning after Saturday’s surprising announcement.

Via Zuffa press release:

Forza, LLC, a subsidiary of Zuffa, LLC, which owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship® brand, announced today that it has purchased the assets of Explosion Entertainment, LLC dba Strikeforce®. Under the terms of the deal, all Strikeforce fighter contracts will be honored, as will its broadcast agreement with Showtime® Networks, Inc. Strikeforce will continue to operate as a separate business and current Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has signed a long-term employment agreement with the company.

“We have worked hard to make mixed martial arts the fastest growing sport in the world,” UFC President Dana White said. “We’ve spent countless hours getting this sport regulated and taking the Octagon® all over the world. Acquiring the Strikeforce assets allows us to continue to develop this sport into a global force.”

“We intend to operate Strikeforce as a separate business much like we did with the WEC for many years,” Lorenzo Fertitta, Chairman and CEO of Zuffa, said. “We look forward to working with Scott Coker, and the entire Strikeforce and Showtime teams to continue to provide quality content for mixed martial arts fans.

“We’ve long admired Scott Coker and the Strikeforce business he launched and developed,” Fertitta continued. “We feel that together with Scott, we can continue to build both Strikeforce and the UFC.”

Currently, Strikeforce holds 16 events annually across the United States. The organization will continue to do so under new ownership and fans can look forward to exciting fights featuring their favorite Strikeforce athletes. While there are currently no plans to bring Strikeforce fighters to the UFC, a new strategy to strengthen Strikeforce’s talented roster is being developed.

“This is an important day for the sport of mixed martial arts,” Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said. “We are excited to work with Lorenzo Fertitta, Frank Fertitta, Dana White and everyone at the UFC on the quest to make MMA the biggest sport in the world. Fans can continue to expect quality Strikeforce shows and we look forward to giving our athletes an even broader platform on which to perform.”

Strikeforce was represented in the transaction by Evolution Media Capital, a media and sports investment bank affiliated with Creative Artists Agency.

Payout Perspective:

A good discussion of the acquisition in our Main Event section. How long will UFC-Strikeforce operate as “business as usual”? In today’s conference call, Lorenzo Fertitta stated that Showtime will continue production of Strikeforce shows, but they will offer input. (H/t: Bloody Elbow) It will be interesting to see  how much input they will offer? There seems to be a lot of things that UFC could make better immediately.

It also seems that Strikeforce fighters (except Paul Daley) are toeing their new company line by stating that the merger is a good thing. MMA Junkie reports that many Strikeforce fighters are excited about the monetary benefits of the merger: fight purses, sponsorships and performance bonuses.

Penn and Fitch head UFC PR tour of Australia

December 23, 2010

B.J. Penn and Jon Fitch toured Australia last week to promote their February 27th bout in Sydney. The promotional tour may assist in educating Aussie fans with mixed views of mixed martial arts.

Via Fight Opinion:

BJ Penn, Jon Fitch, George Sotiropoulos, and Kyle Noke went on a public relations tour yesterday in Australia to promote the promotion’s upcoming event in Sydney in February. A red hot ticket and business will be booming. However, in places like Victoria and Melbourne, you won’t be seeing events any time soon.

The Victoria paper story on the UFC headline: “Ultimate in blood and gore” The article focuses on all the stereotypes of MMA. Cage fighting is banned in Victoria. Melbourne’s Herald Sun had a similar piece although it quoted George Sotiropoulos.

On the positive side, 9MSN and The Moonee Valley Leader had articles which featured UFC fighters. In the 9MSN article, Fitch is featured. The Moonee Valley Leader focuses on the UFC fighters visit to a local gym.

Payout Perspective:

With the expansion of the UFC to new locations, educating the locals on mixed martial arts is vital. The 4 stories show the opposing views of mixed martial arts. Obviously the UFC friendly stories are slanted since the journalists were given access to the fighters. The Victoria paper is the harshest critic of the UFC likely due to the ban in the state. Media tours like this one are necessary when trying to sway public opinon. The access the UFC provides is a good way to get its point of view out to the media.

« Previous PageNext Page »