Multiple outlets are reporting that the UFC on FOX show featuring a UFC heavyweight title fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos peaked at 8.8 million viewers this past Saturday becoming the most watched MMA fight in North American history.
We spoke about the average rating for the show being 5.7 million viewers which was right on par with where we thought the show would do. The show peaked during the heavyweight title fight which only lasted 64 seconds, which makes you wonder just how many people would have be able to tune in if the fight had gone another round or so?
I firmly believe that fight would have crushed ten million viewers had it gone longer which is almost double the old UFC record for viewers. The thought is that since the fight was over so fast, many viewers tuned the channel which dropped the average rating down to 5.7 million viewers. That is still a strong number for a one hour show that only featured one fight that ended quickly.
We also need to remember that the two fighters that fought were not household names or huge PPV draws which is a testament to the UFC brand. Velasquez hadn’t fought in a year and the PPV dos Santos headlined did near 300K PPV buys which isn’t a huge number. There is some concern about the nature of the fight game in that fights can end suddenly and advertisers fear their products will not be seen by the masses. However, the simple answer for that is to show more fights and that’s the plan going forward for future shows on FOX and FX with the next show reportedly being 2 and a half hours long. Shows of this length will provide a true measure of the ratings instead of the snapshot we received this past Saturday night.
The other thing to consider is that if future UFC on FOX shows routinely get these kinds of ratings, how will that change the relationship between the UFC and FOX? The UFC has a seven year contract with FOX, but will they renegotiate the deal if the UFC outperforms the contract ratings wise? The UFC is currently getting anywhere from 90-100 million dollars per year, but that could increase significantly if they are able to acheive great ratings consistently on FOX and FX. If these type of ratings hold true, FOX got the UFC well beyond bargain price compared to what they pay other sports that they have under contract(NASCAR, MLB, etc). I’ll have more on this later
The UFC will have it’s next FOX related show on FX in January. It’ll be interesting to see which fighters will be on that card and what type of ratings that show will acheive. The UFC set the bar high with a ‘teaser’ show, let’s see if they can keep that up over the next year when they roll out a full event under the FOX banner.