That seems to be the case as the UFC 144 prelims that aired Saturday night on FX had an average rating of 1.5 million viewers. That’s on par with the average rating for UFC prelims that would air on Spike TV last year. The encouraging sign for the UFC is that the ratings have continued a steady climb through three events:
- UFC 142 prelim ratings drew 880,000
- UFC 143 prelim ratings drew 1.4 million
- UFC 144 prelim ratings drew 1.5 million
The UFC has had to face counter programming from Spike TV in the past(they didn’t on Saturday night) in which they would broadcast past fights of fighters that were fighting live on the UFC event that was airing on either FUEL TV or FX that night. A prime example of that is the Utimate Fighter 13 Finale and old Diego Sanchez fights that aired on Spike TV the same night Diego Sanchez headlined the UFC on FUEL TV 1 event against Jake Ellenberger. It’s a confusing but effective tactic for the Spike TV as they had been able to garner around one million viewers for content like this using the UFC library that they have access to until 2013. However, this event featuring old footage of Sanchez only garnered 674,000 viewers. The LIVE fight between Sanchez and Ellenberger helped FUEL TV set a new LIVE TV ratings record for the channel peaking at over 300,000 viewers.
It’s definitely something to keep an eye on with “The Ultimate Fighter: LIVE” show debuting on FX channel March 9th. The ratings for that show throughout the season will be a solid indicator in regards to UFC fans making the transition over from SPIKE to FX and FUEL. Spike TV announced that Kimbo Slice would play a part in counter programming that will air opposite of The Ultimate Fighter: LIVE show that will air on FX. Slice was helped the 10th season of TUF to garner huge ratings, so it’ll be interesting to see if what type of numbers will be generated by both shows.
The next LIVE UFC show will air on FX this Friday night featuring a main event between welterweights Martin Kampmann and Thiago Alves which will take place in Sydney, Australia.