UFC 211, thought to be the company’s biggest event of 2017, got early good news as the prelims on FX averaged 1,148,000 viewers.
It was the best prelims number so far this year, beating the average up to this point of 877,000 viewers by 31 percent.
The four-bout show was as filled with more exciting in-ring action than any pay-per-view prelims in recent memory, with consecutive fights with Chase Sherman vs. Rashad Coulter, Jason Knight vs. Chas Skelly, and Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier.
Even though exciting fights, the name value with Sherman vs. Coulter and Knight vs. Skelly by itself didn’t figure to help ratings. Alvarez vs. Poirier was a strong prelims main event on paper, and delivered until the disappointing no-contest finish. Alvarez vs. Poirier peaked the viewership at 1,360,000.
It was particularly strong for FX in the 18-49 demo. FX, which rarely televises UFC, averages 1,003,000 viewers, and 347,000 between 18-49 in that time slot. The UFC prelims averaged 643,000 viewers in the 18-49 demo.
UFC 211 was headlined by two title fights, Stipe Miocic vs. Junior Dos Santos for the heavyweight title and Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Jessica Andrade for the strawweight title.
While not always, there is usually a correlation between the prelim ratings and the pay-per-view numbers for the show. Across the board, the TV numbers were well above UFC 210, the show headlined by Daniel Cormier vs Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.
In the male 35-49 demographic, it was the most-watched show of the night on cable.
Some of the increase may have been the station itself, as FX is a much higher-rated station overall than FS 1. But it’s also a less familiar station for the UFC fan base.
During UFC’s strong 2016, the 1,148,000 viewers of the prelims would have been more than any show of the year aside from the five big events that did more than 1 million pay-per-view buys, the three shows headlined by Conor McGregor, the one show headlined by Ronda Rousey, and UFC 200. It was also the second-largest number of viewers for any UFC event on cable this year, trailing the 1,158,000 viewers for the fight night headlined by Chan Sung Jung vs. Dennis Bermudez.
The pre-fight show, also on FX, did 522,000 viewers, making it the tenth most-watched pre-fight show of the past six years, since FOX acquired the UFC rights. The post-fight show on FS 1 did 329,000 viewers.
For a comparison, the numbers for UFC 210 were 723,000 viewers for the prelims, 268,000 for the pre-fight show and 160,000 for the post-fight show.
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