The UFC and Fox got some news that neither wanted to hear on Sunday. The UFC's primetime show on Fox this past Saturday night drew just 2.04 million viewers and a 0.9 rating in the 18-49 demo, a drop of 40% from the 1.5 rating drawn in April. It's also a huge drop from last summer's show on Fox in August, which drew a 1.4 rating and 2.44 million viewers. That's a drop of nearly 17% in viewers, and nearly 36% in ratings.
Neither drop is *too* worrisome, as there are some circumstances to take into account, but it's not a good thing. April's show featured a heavily-hyped lightweight title fight between Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez and also featured a pair of exciting undercard fights before the evening's co-main event put people to sleep. Last year's summer show on Fox featured former light heavyweight champions Mauricio Rua and Lyoto Machida in the main and co-main events respectively, and Saturday's show featured no fighter with the starpower of either of those two.
But Saturday's card really did nothing to drag in the casual fan. Robbie Lawler's mauling of Bobby Voelker was exciting television, but how many people saw it after Liz Carmouche manhandled the unknown Jessica Andrade to lead off the card? Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson's successful title defense against John Moraga was a great fight, but Moraga had never fought on the main card of a show before, and only the most diehard fans knew who he was. Finally, there was the co-main event between Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger, which was an excellent substitute for melatonin, as neither fighter showed any of the traits that has made them exciting in the past.
Nothing is signed yet for the UFC's next Fox show in December. but it won't involve Jon Jones, Georges St Pierre, Cain Velasquez, or Anderson Silva, so a big rating might be hard to pop, even with oodles of NFL promotion. I wouldn't be shocked at all if Chael Sonnen, fighting on the show taking place on Fox Sports 1 at launch, would be featured, but who would be left for him to fight? It's not really a great spot for the UFC to be in, and while their brand is still quite strong, they lack stars that can help drag casual eyeballs to their cards. At the end of the day, that's a problem that needs to be solved, especially as they become a centerpiece of Fox Sports 1.
This makes it even more interesting that UFC is getting a lot of hype as it prepares to launch on Fox Sports 1, but the Truck Series is the one that's been quietly announced as airing there on for years to come, and mostly on Friday nights to boot.
As much as I loathe MMA, I have a feeling this is NOT the beginning of its end. The sport is however risking overexposure.
I don't know about the fad part, I just covered a local MMA event in Charlotte, good crowd, very local for their favorites. It maybe be on a wave right now, they just need more education in the sport and a new crop of marketable stars.
@Transic Yeah, nothing really to worry about here.