Saturday night’s UFC prelims on FX did 717,000 viewers before the pay-per-view show, which was up 25 percent from the May 12 UFC 224 show, the last time prelims were on FX instead of FS 1.
The number is the fourth-highest of the eight shows this year, and since FX is unfamiliar to fans who expect to see the show on FS 1, that would be a good sign. The prelims peaked at 868,000 viewers for the Pedro Munhoz vs. Brett Johns fight. There were also 9,580 viewers streaming over an average minute of the telecast.
Another good sign is that UFC 227 was the most searched for topic on Google on Saturday night with more than one million searches. The general rule of thumb is one million searches usually leads to above average numbers on pay-per-view since the normal shows that do in the 200,000 buy range usually do closer to 500,000 searches.
A double main event of T.J. Dillashaw beating Cody Garbrandt to keep the bantamweight title and Demetrious Johnson’s surprising loss of the flyweight title to Henry Cejudo had led to UFC’s first-ever legitimate sellout of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, something even Royce Gracie vs. Matt Hughes and Ronda Rousey vs. Cat Zingano couldn’t do.
The sellout led to hope that pay-per-view numbers may surprise, and also the hope that perhaps the news of Conor McGregor’s return would bring eyes and interest to UFC which would lead to people checking out a double title match pay-per-view.
Historically, neither Dillashaw nor Johnson have ever pulled large numbers on pay-per-view.
The main competition on Saturday night head-to-head with PBC Boxing on FOX, which did 941,000 viewers for a main event that saw Andre Berto beat Devon Alexander via split decision. That number was well below the UFC-record-low of 1,678,000 viewers set the prior week for the Dustin Poirier vs. Eddie Alvarez fight.
A big difference between boxing and UFC is fans streaming, as last week’s UFC on FOX did 16,109 viewers on FOX streaming platforms. Boxing on Saturday in the same time slot only did 1,632 viewers per average minute.
In other sports competition, the NFL Hall of Fame ceremony on ESPN did 702,000 viewers, as well as another 466,000 viewers on the NFL Network. Major League Baseball on FS 1, a Cleveland Indians vs. Los Angeles Angels game, did 453,000 viewers.
Eleider Alvarez’s knockout win over Sergey Kovalev for boxing’s light heavyweight world title did a peak of 731,000 viewers on HBO for the main event itself. That didn’t go against the UFC television broadcast, as the fight went head-to-head with the pay-per-view portion of the UFC show.
The pre-fight show on FX did 306,000 viewers while the post-fight show on FS 1 did 122,000 viewers.