UFC 168 was hyped as one of the promotion’s biggest events of the year, and the TV ratings for the prelims on FOX Sports 1 certainly suggest that’s true with an average of 1,554,000 viewers tuning in to watch the fights ahead of the main card on pay-per-view.
That’s easily the most watched preliminary event on FS1 so far, and in fact makes it the second most watched UFC event of any kind on the channel, only beaten by the launch night ‘UFC Fight Night: Shogun Vs Sonnen’ event which drew 1,780,000 viewers back in August.
Prior to the event a re-run of the first fight between Anderson Silva and Chris weidman achieved 412,000 viewers, the most for an encore-showing of a fight on FS1, while the post-event show was also the most-watched to date with 313,000 viewers.
So, this was undoubtedly a home run for the UFC and a great way to close out what’s at times been an underwhelming year on the ratings front, particularly since the switch to FOX Sports 1.
While it’s no guarantee, the ratings also suggest that the promotion could be on course to do well in terms of pay-per-view buys for the card. In the months leading up to the event UFC president Dana White had even gone as far as to suggest that this could be their biggest PPV event ever due to the level of interest in seeing whether Anderson Silva could reclaim his title from Chris Weidman.
It’s still very unlikely that they’ll get close to the current record 1.6 million buys that UFC 100 pulled in with back-to-back Brock Lesnar and GSP fights, but it should comfortably beat out the 625,000 buys that UFC 167: GSP Vs Hendricks did in November, and there’s a chance it could be in or around the 1 million mark which would be a very good bit of business indeed.
While the end result of the main event wasn’t what anyone would have hoped for, it did result in a huge amount of post-fight buzz, even spreading into the mainstream media, and it’ll be interesting to see if that interest level carries on into 2014.