No, to many networks, and compared to the numbers the UFC draws, even in re-runs, on Spike TV, 217,000 total viewers isn’t a huge number. But to a small, once floundering network like Fuel TV, 217,000 is astronomical.
Before the UFC came along, Fuel was struggling to gain a foothold on the television landscape, providing extreme sports fans an outlet for their fix of surfing, motocross, snowboarding, skateboarding, BMX, wakeboarding, and other thrill-seeker sports.
When the UFC came along and signed a seven-year television deal with the Fox family of networks, of which Fuel TV is one, the strategy quickly became to make Fuel the focal point for UFC programming. Just as the promotion helped Spike TV build its audience, the plan is even more so in effect with Fuel.
The network plans to provide more than 2,000 hours of UFC programming in 2012. Despite what may be a low number for more established networks, 217,000 total viewers for UFC on Fuel TV 1, the network’s first live UFC event, only proved that they made the right choice in becoming the ipso facto UFC Channel.
“We fully expected the UFC was going to deliver FUEL TV extraordinary ratings, and now we’re seeing it,” said George Greenberg, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Fuel TV.
In a year’s time, 217,000 will likely seem fairly insignificant to the executives at Fuel too, but for now, it represents the potential the UFC partnership provides.
Right now, 217,000 marks several milestones for the network. It was the most-watched day in Fuel TV history, UFC on Fuel was the network’s most-watched program ever, viewership peaked at 315,000 at one point, and Fuel ranked among the Top 10 in the coveted Men 18-49 demographic for all ad-supported cable networks.
So, while 217,000 barely scratches the surface of the even the TV ratings Spike is garnering with UFC reruns, it promises the key to expanding Fuel TV from its current reach of 36 million homes to something much more significant.
“We are beyond ecstatic about the audience and the impact the UFC is having on our network’s growth thus far,” stated Greenberg. “The sky’s the limit on where this network can go from here.”