It came as no surprise to me that the always boisterous Dana White came out with his spin on last weeks subpar UFC ratings for UFC Fight Night 28 on Fox Sports 1.
Especially considering the heat that the UFC took in the media, on Twitter and all across the blogosphere. Then again, Fox Sports 1 is a new network so the bad ratings really shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone, including the brass over at the UFC.
Now, I am not here to further bury the UFC Fight Night 28 ratings, as that has already been done enough times already. What I am here to do though is bring some accountability to whether or not White’s first couple of comments regarding the ratings were fact or fiction.
You see when a promoter regardless of the promotion starts spouting numbers, percentages and other data, I immediately start to question whether or not the validity of the statements are true. For example, White’s first sentence in his ratings spin was “We were #1 on all of cable with M18-34 and M18-49.”
Now, if White wasn’t a promoter, I would probably just believe him, but since he is a promoter, I immediately reached out to my Nielsen sources. The goal being to verify the facts and also check to see if White was putting any specific spin on the numbers.
With that said, how true is the “We were #1 on all of cable with M18-34 and M18-49?”
Well, its not true at all. Actually, the UFC came in #5 in the M18-49 and came in #7 in the M18-34 demos. So White’s quote should really read “We were #5 and #7 on all of cable with the M18-49 and M18-34”.
For those wondering, A&E was the clear winner all night in both M18-49 and M18-34, with Comedy Central a distant second.
Let’s now move onto White’s second sentence of “We also beat the US Open and the Detroit vs Red Sox MLB game.” How true is this one?
Actually, very true. The UFC beat out both in viewership totals and the demos. Overall the UFC came in 6 slots better than ESPN’s early baseball game and 32 slots better than the US Open on ESPN 2.
Now, when separating the fact from fiction in these sentences I think what White was trying to express was that the UFC won in the M18-34 and M18-49 when up against sports related competition. Then again, his statement didn’t say that, it said “We were #1 on all of cable with M18-34 and M18-49,” so that is simply my spin assumption.
At the end of the day, assumptions are assumptions, but numbers don’t lie. Plus, make no mistake about it, advertisers are fully aware of ratings, positions and demo winners. Promoters can slice, dice, lie do whatever they want to the fans, media and others but when it comes to the people paying for the actual advertisements, those people know exactly what is going on.
Further, let’s move onto one more sentence from White which stated “The first time we put our prelims on FX we pulled 880K viewers and it grew, depending on the fight, up to 1.9 million viewers for UFC 156.”
Now, this is a tricky one because of White’s spin. He noted how bad the first prelim number was but reminded everyone of FX’s highest preliminary number at UFC 156. Are both of these numbers true, yes, but how true is the growth comment?
Again that is where it gets tricky and turns into spin and perception because what is growth? Is growth having a single bad number and a single good number and showing the increase? Is growth how a show does week-to-week? Is growth how a show does from first run all the way through to the last run? I guess we can all have our own meaning, but how about we let a chart do the taking instead.
The below chart is all of the UFC on FX pay-per-view preliminary viewership ratings ever. Take a hard look at the linear number and note that it is flat, meaning the UFC over 21 pay-per-view preliminary events did not move really move the needle.
Basically, the UFC started out at the bottom, had a couple of great numbers and landed with an average of 1.26 million viewers, not exactly a huge growth number. Again though, its all perception and how you slice and dice the numbers. If the UFC was on the growth plane you would see that linear numbers right end move in the upward direction not stay flat.
Now, I could go on-and-on slicing and dicing numbers and doing comparisons, but you all get my point. White’s comments were not exactly fact and they were not exactly fiction, at the end of the day, it all depends on how you slice and dice the numbers and how you want to read them.
In the end, all I ask for from White and the UFC is to be truthful. Stop with all the spin, the advertisers, network executives and Nielsen researchers all know the truth. Plus, does the average fans really care if the UFC came in fifth or seventh in the male demo? No, all they care about is that the promotion is putting on a good product and that they are tuning out satisfied.
Personally, I just hope White remembers that the next time he tries slicing and dicing there are people out there that actually have the real numbers.