UFC 210’s televised preliminary card drew one of its worst ratings on Fox Sports 1 over the past year.
We don’t know the pay-per-view buyrate for UFC 210: Cormier vs. Johnson 2, but we do have the numbers for the preliminary card on Fox Sports 1, and they’re not pretty. At just 723,000 viewers, this was the second-lowest rating on FS1 for any PPV prelim special since 2016, with last October’s UFC 204: Bisping vs. Henderson 2 averaging 678,000.
MMA Fighting’s Dave Meltzer has more context on these ratings:
This number came on a night of light sports competition. ESPN aired college hockey head-to-head that did 467,000 viewers, which meant FS1 was the top-rated sports station in prime time.
The most-watched sports event of the night was an NBA broadcast on ABC that did 1,931,000 viewers. The other most-watched sports event on cable Saturday night was the Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Jason Sosa boxing match on HBO that drew 832,000 viewers for the main event. The Lomachenko fight started at 11:49 p.m. ET, long after the UFC prelims were over, but did go head-to-head with the pay-per-view.
As an aside, that rating for Lomachenko isn’t half-bad considering he’s not a household name in the US, and has only just elevated to regular HBO main event status. The NBA on ABC rating for Spurs-Clippers is not impressive, and really speaks to the season-long ratings struggle for primetime basketball on the network.
For UFC 210, peak viewership actually came for Kamaru Usman’s win over Sean Strickland, as opposed to the feature bout between Myles Jury and Mike De La Torre.
The prelims Saturday were headlined by Myles Jury vs. Mike De La Torre and didn’t have any marquee stars. The peak rating was 893,000 viewers for the Sean Strickland vs. Kamaru Usman fight. The Usman fight beating out the main event is likely because it went three rounds, giving it time to build a rating, while Jury vs. De La Torre was a first round finish.
Prelims are more often than not a good indicator of how the pay-per-view show will do, but they are far from a perfect correlation. It’s too early to get an accurate pay-per-view number, but Cormier vs. Johnson was expected to do in the same range on pay-per-view as Woodley vs. Thompson, and significantly above Holm vs. de Randamie.
UFC 208’s FS1 prelim ratings came in at 874,000 viewers, while UFC 209 fared better with an average of 1,033,000. This ESPN article said that UFC 208 did just 200,000 buys, but it doesn’t look like any other outlet has reported as such. PPV buys for UFC 209 aren’t yet known.
On a programming note, UFC 211’s prelims will air on FX instead of Fox Sports 1, with Eddie Alvarez taking on Dustin Poirier in the feature bout.