A significant reason for the broadcast deal between FOX family of networks and the UFC was to leverage the mixed martial arts juggernaut’s popularity to help build the fledgling FOX Sports 1 sports network.
That strategy appears to be working.
According to a FOX Sports release this week, Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night 58: Machida vs. Dollaway showed significant audience growth from a comparable event last December, and that growth spilled over to the network’s flagship news program, FOX Sports LIVE.
UFC Fight Night 58 from Brazil, which featured Lyoto Machida vs. CB Dollaway in the main event, drew an average of 966,000 viewers to FOX Sports 1. That is a 28-percent increase over last December’s UFC Fight Night 33: Bigfoot vs. Hunt event from Australia. That card, featuring a heavyweight slugfest between Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Mark Hunt, drew a reported 755,000 viewers.
The increase in viewership spilled over from UFC Fight Night 58 into FOX Sports LIVE. In December 2013, the news programs post-fight coverage drew 152,000 viewers. For this year’s UFC Fight Night 58, that number increased to 325,000, more than doubling the programs post-event viewership.
When FOX Sports 1 first launched, everyone involved, including UFC president Dana White, said that launching the new 24/7 sports network would be a long building process. The progress has been slow, but steady, as the UFC continues to stand by its broadcast partner.