UFC Fight Night debut on ESPN draws solid ratings against tough competition

February 20, 2019

The first ever UFC Fight Night card on ESPN drew solid ratings this past Sunday night while going up against some tough competition.

The card featuring Francis Ngannou vs. Cain Velasquez in the main event averaged 1.463 million viewers over the three-hour broadcast that ran from 9 p.m. to midnight on ESPN.

That put the UFC fifth overall in ratings on Sunday night with the 2019 NBA All-Star Game at No. 1 with 5.766 million viewers on average and ‘The Walking Dead’ at No. 2 overall with 4.538 million viewers on average.

The UFC Fight Night card on ESPN debut was up huge from the final UFC Fight Night card on FS1 last year with the card headlined by Junior dos Santos vs. Tai Tuivasa averaging 702,000 viewers for the broadcast.

The first card on ESPN drew just slightly under the final UFC on FOX main card from this past December with that show averaging 1.828 million viewers. Obviously, FOX is free network television versus ESPN, which is on cable.

It’s an encouraging number for the first ever full UFC card on ESPN, especially while going up against another big sporting event like the NBA All-Star game and the highest rated scripted television series on all of cable in ‘The Walking Dead’.

To put these ratings in comparison to previous UFC cards on ESPN — the UFC 234 prelims drew an average of 1.339 million viewers while UFC Fight Night: Cejudo vs. Dillashaw prelims in January that aired ahead of the main card on ESPN+ averaged 1.956 million viewers.

The UFC Fight Night card also came in No. 7 overall for the entire week in social ratings according to Nielsen, which measures engagement for the event on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.