Saturday night’s UFC 189 prelims drew an average of 847,000 viewers on FOX Sports 1, and peaked at 989,000 during the Mike Swick Vs Alex Garcia fight.
While the ratings are in line with the average we’d expect to see for UFC pay-pay-view prelim coverage, it’s disappointing for an event of this magnitude. The other three biggest PPV shows of 2015 so far each breached the 1 million barrier, with UFC 182: Jones Vs Cormier’s prelims drawing 1.39 million viewers, UFC 183: Silva Vs Diaz doing 1.54 million and UFC 184: Rousey Vs Zingano securing 1.2 million.
On this occasion the needle doesn’t appear to have moved despite the massive amount of hype surrounding the event in general, largely due to Conor McGregor’s presence, and a solid preliminary card that was headlined by Matt Brown Vs Tim Means.
It’s also curious that the aforementioned fight didn’t produce the peak viewership for the prelims. Normally the peak comes for the final fight on the card as they get ready to lead into the PPV, but for whatever reason it was the fight before it between Swick and Garcia that did so, and even that fell just short of the million barrier.
It’s hard to say why that might be, though in general the prelims were very lackluster up until the Matt Brown fight, which as it happens actually turned out to be a really good scrap and proved to be a taste of things to come for what ended up being an amazing PPV event that will go down as one of the best shows in the history of the UFC.
Prelim ratings don’t always provide a completely accurate indicator of a pay-per-view event’s success, but it’s certainly something that has to be taken into account and based on this it becomes harder to imagine that UFC 189 has done in or around one million pay-per-view buys as the promotion had been hoping for back before Jose Aldo was replaced by Chad Mendes to fight McGregor in the main event.
Other key indicators suggest the event could have been set to outdo the year’s other big PPV broadcasts though, with Dana White claiming that UFC 189 was breaking records in terms of things like website traffic, PPV pre-buys and the live gate which weighed in with a UFC U.S record of $7.2 million.
With that kind of heat behind it you would have expected more interest in the prelims, but we’ll have to wait for initial PPV estimates in the coming weeks to find out whether the event has been the kind of blockbuster that the UFC had been aiming for.