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Shogun vs SonnenThe Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday helped launch the new FOX Sports 1 network with UFC Fight Night 26: Shogun vs. Sonnen occupying the first prime time programming on the 24/7 sports network. It was a strong move in the TV ratings game.

UFC Fight Night 26 posted an average audience of 1.78 million for a 1.38 household rating, according to fast national information released by Nielsen Media Research on Sunday.

UFC Fight Night 26 beat out the eight UFC on FX Fight Night events by 49 percent in rating (1.38 vs. 0.93) and 38 percent in viewership (1.78 million vs. 1.29 million). Among the key advertising demographics, UFC Fight Night 26 against trumped FX’s prime time UFC events by 50 percent in viewership among Men 18-49 (994,000 vs. 663,000) and 44 percent among Men 18-34 (492,000 vs. 342,000).

On the strength of the UFC programming, FOX Sports 1 averaged 1.71 million viewers in the strict 8 to 11 p.m. ET prime time slot, which FOX says was a 10-fold increase compared to the number Speed, FOX Soccer and Fuel TV combined delivered on the comparable night a year ago, which was 141,000 viewers.

“We must congratulate the UFC for putting together a terrific event for the launch of FOX Sports 1 that fans were obviously very excited to watch,” said Bill Wanger, Executive Vice President, Programming and Research, FOX Sports.  “The prelims and main events were action-packed, and the production quality and new camera angles gave fans a totally new perspective.

“Hats off to the UFC and its incredibly loyal fan base for making our first night such a complete success.”

UFC Fight Night 26 featured Chael Sonnen submitting former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in the first round of their main event match-up.

FOX Sports 1 on Saturday night 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 demographic.

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