Last night’s ‘UFC Fight Night 37’ was aired on terrestrial TV in the UK for the first time ever via Channel 5 and drew an average of 591,000 viewers.
That’s certainly by far the most viewers to ever have tuned in for a live MMA event in the UK, with the UFC’s usual shows on BT Sport tending to draw south of 50,000 viewers, even for major numbered events, though the fact that the time difference means they usually air in the wee hours of the morning is partially to blame for that.
Last night the UFC had a primetime slot on Channel 5, airing the main and co-main event “live” (actually on a 10 minute tape-delay) starting at 9pm.
It’s worth noting that BT Sport were actually broadcasting the event live (no tape-delay) and they aired the full four-fight main card as well, while the full card also streamed live on the ‘UFC Fight Pass’ subscription service, so that would have had an impact on the number of fans who tuned into watch the action on Channel 5.
The event can’t be claimed to be a home-run for the UFC as a week earlier the channel had aired a live boxing event in the same timeslot which drew 759,000 viewers. In the weeks prior to that episodes of TV drama series NCIS had also produced higher ratings than the UFC’s event.
Those who tuned into yesterday evening’s action were treated to an enjoyable fight between Alexander Gustafsson and Jimi Manuwa in the main event, though unfortunately the fight that proceeded it between Michael Johnson and Melvin Guillard was a tepid affair and didn’t offer a good first impression to mainstream viewers tuning in for the first time.
Overall though, the UFC can be satisfied that they’ve reached far more people than ever before in the UK with last night’s event and hopefully that’s a catalyst for an increased level of interest and awareness in the sport here in the coming months.