Stop us if you have heard this one before: UFC ratings are down ... or just straight up awful. Don’t believe it? Well, here is a collection of recent ratings-related headlines:
- UFC Lincoln ratings were garbage because MMA fans were bored and sleepy
- Midnight Mania! What do UFC on FOX 30’s low overnight ratings mean for the sport of MMA?
- UFC attorney denies reports that PPV buys are trash, hopes you’ll take his word for it
- UFC 225 ‘Prelims’ on FOX Sports 1 disappoints with just 667,000 viewers
- UFC Utica ratings mark ‘second-lowest prime time live fight card in history’
So it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that UFC 228 “Prelims” ratings were, “the lowest number in past year,” according to MMAFighting.com. Indeed, Dave Meltzer reports that the undercard on FX Network averaged 560,000 viewers, peaking with 683,000 viewers for Tatiana Suarez’ beatdown of Carla Esparza in the final bout prior to the start of the pay-per-view (PPV) broadcast.
It went a little something like this:
The reason for the poor viewership has, unsurprisingly, a lot to do with UFC parking the action-packed, four-fight card — which featured four exciting finishes, as well as a rare inverted kneebar courtesy of Aljamain Sterling (watch it) — on FX Network. Admittedly, as a mixed martial arts (MMA) writer who is obligated to cover the fights and is aware that they are airing live, it is always difficult to locate the FX Network-televised “Prelims” on my channel line up. It’s always changing, unlike the much more reliable FOX Sports 1 (FS1). But, according to Meltzer, the start of college football this past weekend and the various games on FS1 and other networks just contributed to an overall disinterest — or unawareness — of UFC 228’s undercard.
It seems as though just putting “Prelims” on FX Network is a recipe for lower ratings:
“Thus far in 2018, prelims held on FS 1 have averaged 789,000 viewers while those on FX have averaged 617,000 viewers. The most recent show on FX, the May 12 UFC 224 prelims, did 574,000 viewers. That was prior to the pay-per-view show headlined by Nunes vs. Raquel Pennington.”
The good news is that the Conor McGregor-led UFC 229 is on the horizon — and his star power alone should positively impact all undercard broadcast platforms. In addition, UFC will soon depart the FOX network and its offshoots, including FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, and FX, to begin a new broadcasting deal with “The Worldwide Leader In Sports.” That includes a more aggressive schedule (see it) for 2019 and beyond.