by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
M-1 Global and Strikeforce have fired the latest salvo in a ratings war waged with the UFC.
The Russian and U.S.-based promotions on Monday released a joint statement claiming “record numbers” for the worldwide broadcast of the Nov. 7 “Fedor vs. Rogers” event held in Chicago.
The statement said over 25 million MMA fans around the world watched “a vintage performance from the world’s greatest MMA fighter, Fedor Emelianenko.”
Fedor vs. Rogers, the event, averaged 4.04 million viewers over the duration of its live over-the-air broadcast on CBS, according to figures released by the network.
M-1 and Strikeforce said Fedor vs. Rogers was broadcast in Russia by ‘Channel 1,’ Russia’s largest television network, and reached 16 million viewers in Fedor’s home country. Additionally, ‘Fedor vs. Rogers’ was broadcast to millions of viewers in Korea on SBS, one of the three major national South Korean networks, as well as television networks in China, Latin America, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ukraine, Finland, Africa, Turkey, Israel, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Malta.
The promotions did not release a breakdown of viewership or demographics for the two-plus hour broadcast.
“We are extremely happy with the preliminary broadcast reports,” said M-1 Global CEO Joost Raimond. “The demographics of these numbers were very promising as our network broadcasting partners in the U.S., Russia, and Korea reach an enormous audience alone. Coupled with a dozen other countries and our successful Internet stream in Japan and other territories, all early accounts and indications tell us that ‘Fedor vs. Rogers’ delivered worldwide more than any other MMA show in the history of the sport.”
It’s difficult to uniformly track numbers worldwide, and the industry leading, but privately held, Ultimate Fighting Championship does not readily make its numbers available, so it’s hard to verify where “Fedor vs. Rogers” stands among single event viewership in the sport’s history.
Though the UFC has not revealed viewership for the most prominent event in its history, July’s UFC 100, the promotion’s president, Dana White, claimed it was available live in 75 countries.
The UFC doesn’t release its pay-per-view numbers, but its broadcasts on cable television are independently reported in the U.S. The UFC’s big ratings draw lately has been Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson on the current season of The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV. In his only fight of the series, Kimbo lost to Roy Nelson, but drew 6.1 million viewers during the quarter hour the fight aired. The bout was the fourth most-watched fight in U.S. MMA history, though that ranking does not include pay-per-view bouts due to a lack of accurate data.
The Fedor Emelianenko versus Brett Rogers bout on Nov. 7 drew an average of 5.46 million viewers in its quarter-hour timeslot on CBS, making it the ninth most-watched fight in U.S. MMA television history.