The UFC on Fox 5: Henderson vs. Diaz TV ratings for “Big Fox” were deemed an immediate success, even just based on the quick overnight results indicating 3.41 million viewers. The preliminary broadcast on FX followed suit, drawing 1.2 million viewers.
The UFC on Fox 5 prelims on FX drew the best numbers of any preliminary bouts on the network since the supporting cast for UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen 2 scored 1.8 million viewers.
The big kicker here, however, is that this was the first time that prelims for a UFC on Fox event were broadcast on FX instead of Fuel TV. FX is available in many more homes than Fuel TV and it showed on Saturday night.
The 1.2 million viewers that watched on FX dwarfed anything that Fuel TV’s limited reach has been able to accomplish. The best numbers that Fuel TV have draw for any prelims broadcast was 194,000 for UFC on Fox 4 in August.
The change came when the TV ratings for the UFC on Fox events dropped down and stagnated at around 2.4 million viewers. Moving the prelims to FX was an effort to get more people to watch the prelims, grab hold of them, and drive them over to the main card on Fox.
It appears to have worked with UFC on Fox 5 garnering around a million more viewers than the last two UFC on Fox events.
The increase was also likely due in part to what has widely been considered the strongest fight card to date for a UFC on Fox event. UFC on Fox 5 featured lightweight champion Benson Henderson defending his belt against Nate Diaz, a No. 1 light heavyweight contender’s bout between Alexander Gustafsson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, the return of former multi-division champion BJ Penn against rising star Rory MacDonald, and Mike Swick vs. Matt Brown.
Fox officials indicated prior to UFC on Fox 5 that the prelims move to FX was likely to continue beyond this one event.