Following a strong showing in its initial UFC on Fox broadcast a year ago – drawing 5.7 million viewers – the TV ratings for subsequent UFC on Fox broadcasts have declined, leading many to question why.
UFC on Fox 2 slipped slightly to 4.6 million viewers, while UFC on Fox 3 and 4 each pulled in a relatively disappointing 2.4 million viewers.
Has the MMA bubble burst? Are there just too many UFC events? Are the fight cards lacking? Has Fox dropped the ball on promotion?
To be fair, the UFC and Fox haven’t yet even completed the first year of their seven-year broadcasting agreement. The programming spans across several networks, primarily Fox, FX, and Fuel TV.
In short, this partnership is very much still a work in progress.
As they head into UFC on Fox 5 in December, however, things are looking up; at least if ticket sales are any indicator.
“Hell yes, I am. I’m very excited for that card,” UFC president Dana White replied when asked about UFC on Fox 5. “The thing sold out already.”
Of course, you would expect White to say he’s excited about the card, but the bigger indicator is that it is already sold out.
Whether or not that translates into the almighty TV ratings turnout, and particularly in the key advertising demographics, when the show hits the “Big Fox” airwaves on Dec. 8 remains to be seen.
The UFC on Fox 5 main card features only the second title fight in five events to hit the Fox screen. UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson puts his belt on the line against Nate Diaz. The headliner is bolstered by a supporting cast that features Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Alexander Gustafsson, a light heavyweight contenders bout; welterweight prospect Rory MacDonald welcoming back future UFC Hall of Famer B.J. Penn; and original Ultimate Fighter alum Mike Swick squaring off with fellow TUF vet Matt Brown.
UFC on Fox 5 has already delivered at the gate. Will it deliver on TV, too?