Solid sampling for Fox Sports 1's opening night

Tom Pennington

The network drew 1.78 million viewers for its debut UFC card, and got some of them to stick around for 'Fox Sports Live.'

Fox Sports 1, all things considered, had a pretty good first day in business.

Its debut event, UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen, drew 1.71 million viewers in primetime. The network is very pleased with how it was able to use FS1 to combine all of its sports properties. For example, the network is pointing out that the audience for the UFC bill drew 10 times the audience that Speed, Fox Soccer and Fuel TV drew in primetime on the year-ago evening.

More importantly, however, Fox moved a night that had been previously dedicated to cable's FX with a lot of success. The viewership number is up 38 percent from the average for the previous eight FX fight nights (1.29 million average) and up 49 percent in ratings (1.3 vs. 0.9). The network also made big gains among Men 18-49 and Men 18-34, the UFC's target demos.

Perhaps the biggest victory for the fledgling network on night one? Fox Sports 1 out-rated all four major broadcast networks among Adults 18-49, Adults 18-34, Men 18-49, and Men 18-34 based on impressions within each demo.

Fox Sports Live followed the UFC, and it held on to a decent enough chunk of the audience. The network got beaten by ESPN's 11 p.m. ET SportsCenter in the ratings (0.6 to 0.2), but Live still drew 476,000 viewers, a decent number for late night. Though Speed was more dedicated to afternoon and primetime programming than late night, the network saw gains of 137 percent in total viewers from that network's time period in 2012. Of those viewers, 163,000 were among Men 18-34, a key demo.

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