The UFC returned to the national spotlight on Fox last night with UFC on Fox 9 which featured Demetrious Johnson defeating Joseph Benavidez by knockout to retain the UFC flyweight title.
According to multiple Nielsen sources, UFC on Fox 9’s preliminary overnight viewership hit 2.41 million viewers (**2.406) coming in second in the adult 18-49 demographic with a 1.0 rating and a 3 share. **This number includes DVR playback up through 3 a.m.
The event actually started out pretty weak on the rating side, hitting only 4th in the adult 18-49 demographic, but by the time the show ended the UFC finished in 2nd place, which is always a good sign.
It should be noted that this show had a sizable viewership bump with a 17% increase compared to the last UFC on Fox show, UFC on Fox 8, which drew a series low 2.04 million viewers.
Also, when you compare UFC on Fox 9 to the last time the UFC was on in December, UFC on Fox 5, the UFC showed a 45% viewership decrease, as UFC on Fox 5 hit 4.4 million viewers.
At this point, the overall UFC on Fox average has now dropped to 3.43 million viewers, but it is still a solid rating draw for both the UFC and Fox. Obviously, the biggest knock on the card last night will be that the lighter weight classes were featured, but let’s not forget that UFC on Fox 9 grew its audience from start-to-finish and certainly helped sell a few more PPV’s for the epic card setup for the end of the month.
When it came to the rest of the competition, the UFC went up against mostly Christmas related programming. Most notable was CBS, who won the nights with a 1.3 rating. Rudolph lead CBS with 5.7 million viewers (1.6 rating), Frosty with 5.2 million viewers (1.5 rating), and Frosty Returns with 4.5 million viewers (1.3 rating).
The UFC also had some cable and paid-cable competition including ESPN’s Heisman Trophy show and Showtime’s Boxing event featuring Broner vs. Maidana. Neither show’s ratings and viewership totals are out, but safe to say, neither will touch the UFC’s rating or viewership number.