(The biggest star on the prelim portion of UFC 150: Dennis Bermsomethingsomething…)
As if Dana White didn’t have enough headaches. Injuries have been killing his events. UFC 150 brought in their worst gate in five years. DirecTV had a blackout Saturday night that grossly affected the pay per view numbers. And Mayhem Miller went and got himself arrested being naked in a church after his and White’s Twitter beef, which Dana may secretly feel at least partially responsible for. Now on top of all that shit, the ratings for the prelims on FX are out, and they’re not good. MMAWeekly reports that the broadcast averaged only 974,000 viewers, well below the 1.27 million average for prelims on FX.
It’s no secret that the UFC’s ratings on FOX and FX haven’t exactly blown anyone away. On FUEL, however, they’re off the chain. But what else can you expect from a channel no one gets and that features such must-see TV as Master Debaters with Jay Mohr? The UFC is bound to kill on FUEL, just as they were bound to kill on SPIKE when they started off there. There’s simply nowhere to go but up. Basically, those channels suck ass without the UFC.
But, by the power of selective misdirection, there is a silver lining to this cloud: The Olympics. When the prelims started, over 12 million people were watching the games. By 9:30 that number had grown to over 20 million. In short, don’t fuck with the Olympics.
That’s the macro issue though. The micro issue is that the prelims featured not one notable fighter. The fights were great, but that after-the-fact logic doesn’t get eyeballs on the screen. This has become a nauseating term, but “oversaturation” may be rearing its ugly head in this instance. Now, it’s the prelims, so of course no one expects to get Anderson Silva vs GSP, but there has to be at least one fight that people care enough about to want to watch more than swimming or beach volleyball.
In my humble opinion, the strategy of relying on the UFC brand rather than any one particular fighter has run its course. That was fine before mainstream acceptance was within reach because hardcore fans just want to see sweaty, half-naked men beat each other up. Casual fans want to know who those sweaty, half-naked men are. In a realistic perspective, 974,000 isn’t a terrible number, but if they ever want it to grow, and you can bet your ass they do, they’re going to have to put some names on those undercards.