The Olympics just barely edged out UFC 221’s prelims on Saturday night, drawing an estimated 21.4 million viewers to the UFC’s 700k. On a night with figure skating, ice dancing, men’s alpine skiing, and fighting on four corners, people picked everything but the fighting.
MMA Fighting’s Dave Meltzer provided the numbers, which include relatively new FSGO and FOX Now streaming service views, which had the Perth prelims averaging 8000 viewers over an average minute.
Those numbers on the lower end of ratings, with only four prelim shows in 2017 doing less numbers than the UFC 221 prelims. That shouldn’t be too much of a surprise considering the broadcast was devoid of names and stacked mainly with up and coming talent like Israel Adesanya and Alex Volkanovsky.
On the plus side, those that did tune in were treated to a mostly entertaining slate of fights. On the less than plus side, ratings peaked during the terrible Dong Hyun Kim vs. Damien Brown fight. Another negative: the prelims came in 4th ratings wise against other sports programming, losing to the Olympics, NBA, and college basketball.
What’s worse, though: a lot of fogeys tuned in.
One notable factor is that the audience skewed older than usual. The show did a 0.21 rating in the 18-49 demographic, as compared to 0.34 in the 50+ demographic. Until recent years the 18-49 demo always beat 50+, and even in recent years when that has changed, the margin usually isn’t that significant.
Even with the recent slide in ratings, the UFC still has been able to push their young demographics with sponsors and advertisers. That demographic has started to age, and if the numbers you see above keep up, we could be seeing way more catheter and mesothelioma ads mixed in with our mixed martial arts.