The early television ratings for the UFC’s highly-anticipated primetime debut are in. According to TVbyTheNumbers, Saturday night’s live hour-long broadcast on FOX attracted 4.64 million viewers.
The college football game between Oregon and Standford was the 9PM ET/6PM PT time slot winner, garnering 7.11 million viewers. A rerun of NCIS on CBS took the #2 spot with 5.50 viewers.
Of interesting note, 30 minutes prior to “UFC on FOX” hitting the small screen, an episode of Cops scored 4.81 million viewers for FOX.
Officials from the UFC and FOX refrained from giving predictions on what ratings their premiere show would pull. However, most believed that dipping below 5 million viewers would generate a sense of disappointment.
What didn’t help the UFC was that the heavyweight title scrap between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos only last 64 seconds. It is believed the company would have posted better numbers if the fight went longer.
Another key factor is that these figures are preliminary and are expected to slightly adjust up. It will also be interesting to see what “UFC on FOX” peaked at, which was not available in Sunday’s report. More complete and accurate information will be available on Monday when the Nielsen ratings are released.
Regardless, it appears the most watched mixed martial arts event in television history will still be when Kimbo Slice beat James Thompson at EliteXC: Primetime in May of 2008. That CBS broadcast averaged 6.12 million viewers and peaked at 6.5 million.
Kimbo also pulled big numbers for the UFC when he fought Roy Nelson on “The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights.” That episode drew 5.3 million viewers for SpikeTV and peaked at 6.1 million.