The UFC 235 prelims on ESPN led all cable programming this past Saturday night with a card headlined by the featherweight bout between Zabit Magomedsharipov and Jeremy Stephens.
While it was a quiet night on television with no other major sporting events, the UFC 235 prelims ended with an average of 1.48 million viewers over the two hour broadcast.
Both ‘Live P.D.’ and the college basketball game on ESPN leading into the UFC prelims had higher viewership, the UFC led every program with the highest share in the coveted 18 to 49 year old demographic.
The UFC 235 ratings also beat the previous pay-per-view ratings on ESPN with UFC 234 earning 1.339 million viewers, which was helped by a huge college basketball game between Duke and Virginia leading into that card.
These numbers are also much higher than the UFC 232 pay-per-view prelims on FS1 that averaged 1.15 million viewers over two hours. That was a massive pay-per-view offering for the UFC that night in the final card aired on FOX before the move over to ESPN in 2019.
Through the first two pay-per-view cards of the year, ESPN has definitely seen an increase in ratings for the UFC. The card this past Saturday night definitely had some added star power both on the main card and the prelims, which showed with the ratings on Saturday night.
UFC 235 also blew away the competition on social ratings based on information gathered by the Nielsen Ratings System that looks at engagement for events and television shows during their initial broadcast across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
The UFC 235 pay-per-view was No. 1 overall while the preliminary card on ESPN came in fifth place overall for the entire week.
So far the ESPN relationship for the UFC has resulted in much bigger ratings than the promotion was receiving on FOX, gaining higher viewership than even the most marquee preliminary cards that aired on the network.
The next major pay-per-view will roll out on April 13 when Max Holloway faces Dustin Poirier to crown an interim lightweight champion while Kelvin Gastelum meets Israel Adesnaya in the co-main event with the winner taking home the middleweight championship.