The TV ratings are in for UFC On ESPN+ 1’s prelims, which aired on the main ESPN channel, and they are impressive, with a total of 1,956,000 viewers tuning in, for an 0.8 rating (18-49).
That instantly makes the UFC’s debut offering on ESPN there highest rated prelims ever, outdoing even the UFC 194: Aldo Vs McGregor prelims, which delivered 1,931,000 viewers on FOX Sports 1 back in 2015.
By way of a more recent comparison, UFC 229: Nurmagomedov Vs McGregor is by far and away the biggest UFC PPV offering of all time, delivering 2.4 million buys, but it’s prelims drew only 1,308,000 million viewers on FS1, and that in itself was the was the highest since UFC 196.
UFC On ESPN+ 1’s prelims came 2nd in all of cable on Saturday night, trailing only to the college basketball game that aired before it, which drew 3,764,000 viewers. The game over-ran by 13 minutes and likely helped boost the UFC’s ratings too as a result.
While the main card aired on ESPN+, the network’s streaming platform, the UFC knew that they needed a big fight to serve as the lead in due to the prelims airing on ESPN and the fight between Donald Cerrone and Alexander Hernandez did an excellent job in that regard, providing an entertaining scrap that will surely have tempted more people to sign up to continue watching the rest of the nights card.
Just a few days ago ESPN signalled that the uptick on the ESPN+ service for the UFC’s arrival was strong, with no less than 568,000 new subscribers signing up on the Friday and Saturday night alone.
So, overall it’s clear that the UFC has got off to a strong start on the network, though it’ll be interesting to see what kind of numbers they generate when they deliver their first full card on the main ESPN channel on February 17th, headlined by a heavyweight bout between the returning former champion Cain Velasquez and Francis Ngannou.