The World Series of Fighting held their second event over this past weekend and almost immediately afterwards MMA media started asking those tough existential questions they ask about every promotion not named the UFC. Why are they here? What are they trying to accomplish? What is the purpose of their existence? There may not be an overwhelming sense of importance to the fights going on, but hey, they’re fun. And the WSOF is succeeding at it’s true purpose in life: to provide NBC Sports with better than average ratings.
The World Series of Fighting has seen a promising increase in viewership for WSOF 2. The NBC Sports Network broadcast peaked at 332,000 live viewers, marking a 46% increase since the promotion’s November 2012 debut. The broadcast averaged 210,000 viewers, which was a 6% increase since WSOF 1.
WSOF 2 faced considerable competition for sports fans that night with the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Finals posting strong numbers as well.
Yeah but what is 200,000 viewers worth? That doesn’t sound all that impressive compared to TUF’s 1 million + viewers and Bellator’s 700,000 audience, but when compared to the rest of NBC Sports’ programming…
Ratings for the NBC Sports Network have tanked without the NHL. Over the last month, the top-rated programs on the network have consistently been outdoors shows, with hunting and fishing features taking up 14 of the top 20 highest rated timeslots this month. There were just two programs that drew over 200,000 viewers: bonus coverage of the 49ers-Patriots game on December 16th (1.2 million viewers) and a live boxing card on December 8th (216,000). To put that in perspective, ESPN2’s coverage of the Crossfit Games gets 200,000 viewers.
NBCSN’s studio shows have been even worse for the network than their lackluster slate of live events without the NHL. No studio show in December drew 100,000 viewers, and the Dan Patrick Show has consistently finished with under 50,000 viewers for their top airings… which is the hour-long “Best Of” episode in the afternoon. The Lights hasn’t been able to crack 30,000 viewers, while NBC Sports Talk hasn’t broke 50,000 viewers for an episode while falling as low as 24,000 viewers. Pro Football Talk and NFL Turning Point have done better for the network, regularly drawing over 50,000 viewers but just one airing of either show finished in the top 20 for the week in the month of December.
And I’m sure there’s the usual MMA bump in Male 18-34 demographics TV people throw such raging stiffies over. Because while NBC Sports must love Polident and The Clapper buying all that adspace during their hunting shows, the big money is in taking all that disposable income off young men who are easily swayed into buying something as disgusting as Old Spice because a buff guy on a horse told them to.