The success of the first ever UFC on Fox show continues to grow with the ratings returns in, and the fighters in the sport are just as excited as UFC and Fox officials.
In a ratings release on Sunday, the UFC on Fox averaged 5.7 million viewers for the entirety of the one-hour broadcast that aired during the 9 to 10 p.m. ET time slot.
According to Nielsen Ratings sent to MMAWeekly.com, the 15-minute averages steadily increased as the show got closer to the actual fight, which didn’t kick off until after 9:30 p.m. ET.
Starting at 9 p.m. ET, the UFC on Fox broadcast pulled in 5.3 million viewers and then jumped to 5.5 million viewers during the 9:15 to 9:30 time slot. The real jump happened during the fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos.
The peak hit at 8.8 million viewers during the fight, the highest ever for any mixed martial arts fight in television history, surpassing the numbers reached during the EliteXC broadcast featuring Kimbo Slice against James Thompson.
The overall rating during the 9:30 to 9:45 p.m. time period averaged 7.1 million viewers. The decrease was due to the amount of fans that changed the channel after the heavyweight title fight ended with the viewership going to 5.9 million within three minutes of the fight’s conclusion.
“It’s awesome. I think it’s a matter of time before mixed martial arts and the UFC is the biggest sport and the biggest organization in the world,” said Urijah Faber about the debut Fox show.
According to a release from Fox on Thursday, another half-million viewers were added to the overall broadcast courtesy of the show’s airing on Fox Deportes. FoxSports.com also saw their biggest numbers outside of a Super Bowl when showcasing the UFC on Fox prelims on the internet.
The two-hour UFC on Fox pre-game show on Fuel TV was the highest rated program on the network for all of 2011, and their largest share in the coveted 18-49 male demographic as well.
UFC on Fox 1 was just the starting point to a seven-year deal that actually doesn’t begin until January 2012. For some fighters who have been around MMA for several years, it’s a very exciting time to see the sport explode on a whole new level.
“I think the game is just starting,” said Wanderlei Silva on Thursday. “We just had our first event on Fox, the transition for the sport right now, and it’s just time before this sport is No. 1 in the world.”
Dan Henderson, who fights in this weekend’s main event fight at UFC 139, marks the UFC on Fox debut as another placeholder in MMA history.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Henderson. “The UFC getting on Spike TV was one big step, and with them getting a deal with Fox, it’s another huge step for the sport.”
The second Fox show is rumored to take place in January 2012, and if the numbers from the debut show are any indication, the sky’s the limit for the future.
“I think the second show on Fox will be even bigger for the UFC,” middleweight Cung Le stated at the UFC 139 pre-fight press conference.
Expectations are definitely high that Le is right on the money with his prediction.