The UFC's attempt at both serving the fans and providing television content that a) delivers ratings and b) demonstrates the strength of their brand loyalty continues. MMA Junkie provides the details in terms of how the numbers for this event played out. To wit:
The broadcast, which featured preliminary-card fights of Donald Cerrone vs. Paul Kelly and Chad Mendes vs. Michihiro Omigawa, topped the previous 13 "UFC Prelims" installments and the former record of 1.7 million viewers.
Overall, the Spike TV broadcast earned a 1.2 household rating, including an impressive 1.7 among men 18-49. The one-hour broadcast was the highest-rated program in its timeslot among men 18-49 and men 18-34.
Very strong numbers and a testament to how rabid and committed the UFC fan base actually is. Not all of the preliminary fights shown on Spike pull these numbers. In fact, some of the results have been abysmally low. Here's some historical context:
- 1) UFC 125 (February 2011): 2.0 million viewers
- 2) UFC 109 (February 2010): 1.7 million viewers
- 3) UFC 114 (May 2010): 1.6 million viewers
- 4) UFC 108 (January 2010): 1.5 million viewers
- 4) UFC 121 (October 2010): 1.5 million viewers
- 4) UFC 123 (November 2010): 1.5 million viewers
- 7) UFC 104 (October 2009): 1.4 million viewers
- 7) UFC 103 (September 2009): 1.4 million viewers
- 9) UFC 119 (September 2010): 1.3 million viewers
- 9) UFC 116 (July 2010): 1.3 million viewers
- 9) UFC 115 (June 2010): 1.3 million viewers
- 9) UFC 106 (November 2009): 1.3 million viewers
- 13) UFC 111 (March 2010): 1.2 million viewers
- 14) UFC 118 (August 2010): 1.1 million viewers
Trying to determine a pattern of what affects the ratings means assessing a balance of goods. There wasn't much sporting counter-programming on that Saturday evening and UFC 126 appeared to be riding significant media and fan buzz into the weekend. Yet, none of the preliminary fighters are known commodities as ratings' draws, which means we circle back to our original conclusion: the UFC brand itself appears to be something a Gotham bat signal. More than any other explanation, the power of the UFC brand to command their audience to pay attention, particulary on a weekend where buzz is high and competition/distraction is low, cannot be understated.
This also begs the question of what kind of pay-per-view number UFC 126 will now draw knowing the audience leading into the event was at an all-time high.