The preliminary ratings for Saturday’s UFC on FOX card suggested a total viewer count of 4.65 million. In reaction to this news, general disappointment and feelings of “Let us all worship at the alter of Kimbo!” prevailed even though the 2.4 rating/7 share for adults ages 18-49 made it the second-most-watched program in that demographic for the hour and third-highest overall. Dana White was in such a tizzy about how the JDS-Velaszuez fight turned out that his veneer of smiles and forced professionalism cracked at the post fight press conference when he told people who wanted a better show to “seriously, shut up”.
But not content to let a day go by without burying us in an alphabet soup of numbers and confusing gibberish, the big TV types quickly told us to keep our pants on because quick live TV ratings always undercount the mountain and pacific time zones. So now we are being told that an average of 5.7 million people watched UFC on FOX over the hour it was broadcast, its 3.1 rating making the UFC’s broadcast length and girth quite impressive in magnitude. The UFC’s wang was larger indeed than every college football game this week besides Stanford-Oregon, but three college football games airing in primetime combined for ratings of 8.9/17, sinking the UFC’s battleship.
News sources who normally seem to be getting extra octagon girl services from the UFC quickly ran with this news and called UFC on FOX the most-watched MMA fight in US network TV history. This “fact” was regurgitated by others throughout the MMA interwebsphere until it became something of a hackneyed truism. But does this capture the entire truth? The Kimbo-Thompson EliteXC event drew only a 3.0 rating with an average of 4.85 million viewers for the entire two-hour broadcast. But the last hour of the broadcast averaged 6.12 million viewers, and the time of the actual Kimbo-Thompson fight, from 11:30-11:51PM, peaked at 6.51 million viewers. So UFC on FOX was not the most-watched hour of MMA on network television, as some are saying, and it probably was not the most-watched fight either. We’ll find out the peak quarter hour ratings later this week, but my guess is that 65 seconds of fighting may not have been enough to garner a large rise in the peak quarter hour of the broadcast.
Even Jared “$kala” Shaw would be reasonable enough to tell us that the ratings would have been helped by the addition of the Guida-Henderson bout to the broadcast. Since the ratings pop that the UFC got during the first Bonnar-Griffin fight, we have seen that sustained periods of hot, frenetic MMA action bring in additional viewers by word of mouth and stumbling of fingers across remotes. Perhaps due to this simple fact, which we all knew long ago, rumors are now circulating that future UFC on FOX broadcasts will consist of two fights, which still seems a bit boner busting to us, but what do we know … we’re just actual MMA fans.