From the start of their relationship, the UFC’s partnership with the Fox family of networks had one of its key elements being to give the UFC a home network and in return, the UFC would help that network to grow.
That network turned out to be Fuel TV, the de facto UFC channel.
And that strategy has paid off in spades.
For the first year of the partnership, 2012, Fuel TV finished as the number-one ad-supported cable network in year-to-year percentage growth among households, total viewers and men 18-49 during total day and prime time, according to figures released by Nielsen Media Research.
In 2012, prime time viewership increased +164% compared to 2011, while the network’s total day viewership grew +122% vs. 2011. Compared to the equivalent time period in 2011, Fuel TV’s viewership increased for an unprecedented 53 consecutive weeks and 12 straight months.
“2012 has been an incredible year for Fuel TV and we are excited to see the extraordinary viewership growth month after month,” says George Greenberg, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Fuel TV.
“Driven by the power of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and its passionate and loyal fan base, we have seen unbelievable increases in all demos throughout the year. We know the trend will continue in 2013. The UFC product is without a doubt the major league of MMA and you cannot find this quality of fights anywhere else.”
With the start of the larger seven-year rights deal between the FOX Sports Media Group and the UFC, Fuel TV kicked off 2012 with a 24-hour marathon of UFC programing on Jan. 1 and the viewership increases were immediate. Throughout the year, the network became the de facto home of the sport, hosting more UFC programming than any network has ever offered.
In 2012, Fuel TV telecast 31 live UFC weigh-in and post-fight shows, nine live prelims, and six live UFC on Fuel TV fights. In addition, the network showed a mix of additional UFC news, highlight and lifestyle programming.
The year ended on a particularly strong note, with December ending as the network’s third most-watched month of prime time and fourth most-watched month ever. A UFC Holiday Knockout marathon on Dec. 25 delivered the sixth most-watched day in network history.