You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Luckily, for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the first impression of its new television partnership with FUEL TV (via FOX) was a good one.
And then some.
In August 2011, the UFC signed a seven-year deal with FOX, making it the flagship network of the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, which went into full effect on Jan. 1, 2012. The very first "unofficial" sampling of what this marriage would look like came on Nov. 12, 2011, when Junior dos Santos defeated then-heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez at UFC on FOX 1 in Anaheim, California.
Though FUEL TV played a minor role in the UFC on FOX 1 build-up, the network featured 24 hours of action-packed UFC programming to kick off the New Year. So, just how well did the UFC on FUEL TV marathon do from a numbers perspective?
Check out the ratings after the jump:
Here are some key points (from an official press release distributed earlier today):
- Sunday, January, 2012 was the second most-watched day in network history with Total Day average up +378% vs. the January 2011 Sunday average.
- FUEL TV had its highest-watched Primetime night ever, up +493% vs. the 2011 Sunday average.
- The top show of the day was "UFC Bad Blood" at 7:00 PM ET. It was the fourth most-watched show on FUEL TV among Households since the network became nationally rated.
George Greenberg, FUEL TV's Executive Vice President and General Manager, felt that the New Year's marathon was the first step of many exciting steps to come for the partnership:
"FUEL TV's New Year's Day Marathon of UFC programming was essentially Day 1 of FOX's seven-year relationship with the UFC. We are confident that this exceptional and powerful programming, our cross-network promotional strategy, along with a great working relationship with UFC management, will continue to drive growth for UFC and FUEL TV over the long term."
FUEL TV is certain to play a pivotal role in the future, regarding how MMA fans see the UFC on television.
In 2012, FUEL TV will telecast more than 2,000 hours of UFC programming, with more than 100 hours of live fights, weigh-ins, preliminary bouts, and pre and post-fight shows. In fact, in 2012, FUEL TV will offer more UFC programming than any network has ever offered.
No hard feelings, Spike TV.