UFC on FOX 3 ratings were down a whoppin 50% compared to UFC on FOX 2, and while MMA sites should be given a cookie for not declaring the sky is falling, there was still a lot of hay made about the numbers. I guess we’re still suffering from an inferiority complex and are worried the relationship with our hot new girlfriend Megan FOX is gonna end up on the rocks. Lorenzo Fertitta made one of his rare calculated appearances to talk down the cruddy numbers:
“Would we like to see the numbers be trending differently? Yes, of course,” Fertitta said. “But we’re not concerned and we don’t think it’s an overall reflection of our business. There are reasons for it. If you think about it, for the first [Fox] fight we had a massive amount of promotion within the NFL on Fox. And we led with our big show, the heavyweight championship, so of course, we were going to draw a much broader range of viewers.
“The fight in January in Chicago actually performed pretty well, even though it was a little below the first one. It was still super solid. This last show, I’d say it was a moderate performance. Really, what we’re looking at is, ‘How did we rank within the competition compared to what was going on that night?’ And in hindsight, going on Cinco de Mayo may not have been the best thing to do.”
Not so subtle and calculated was Dana White, who created a video blog devoted to blasting reporter Dave Meltzer for basically saying the same thing everyone else was about the ratings. After making fun of Meltzer for getting fired from Yahoo (something that has infinitely more to do with Yahoo going down the toilet than Dave), he got into the nitty gritty of how the ratings broke down:
HUT levels mean total viewers watching television that night were down almost 10 million from the first Fox show that we did, down almost 10 million viewers. 10 million people weren’t home watching TV that night. Well, it was Cinco de Mayo. The Avengers came out, which was you know the biggest opening in movie history. And one other thing – the NBA Playoffs that night that went off right around the same time we did, it was the San Antonio/Utah game, we beat them across the board in every way, shape, and form you can beat them. Right? Do you see the writers, uh, that cover the NBA going out there and going, ‘Oh my God, it’s doom and gloom, what’s going to happen to the NBA?’ Because if we beat them and our situation is so bad, what does that say for the NBA?
I’m not sure exactly what everyone was expecting from this card. From the moment they announced Nate Diaz vs Jim Miller was going to be the main event I figured it was a given that ratings would be nowhere near the first and second FOX shows. The card was devoid of wow factor to the point where I figured this might be an experiment to see how a UFC Fight Night level card would fare on broadcast television.
If that was the plan, now we know and knowing is half the battle. If it wasn’t and the UFC actually thinks a better caliber card still would have performed as badly due to the Hulk and Iron Man … well then maybe we should be worried.
What we’ve learned from the first three FOX cards tells the UFC everything they need to know if they want to keep things growing on this new broadcast platform they’ve waited so long to get on. Mega fights draw in the people while the unsung heroes of the promotion deliver the goods. The UFC proved they knew that already when they booked Cain Velasquez vs Junior Dos Santos for their first show with Benson Henderson vs Clay Guida as a warm up. Unfortuantely, some FOX penis convinced them to devote the entire event to fighters who almost never leave the first round and a potential Griffin vs Bonnar moment was averted.
There’s no shortage of fights that practically guarantee fireworks, but there has been a shortage in marquee battles that will bring in droves of eyes. With the past two years being a nightmare of injuries, steroid suspensions, and other gypsy curse-related disasters, I can forgive the UFC a little if they try to save some of these fights for PPV events. But if they want to avoid more meh ratings and the media freakouts that go along with them, they’ll have to do better than UFC on FOX 4′s current Brian Stann vs Hector Lombard headline fight. There’s no Avengers level movie that weekend to blame any bad ratings on.