A change in nights and a change in networks will mean some growing pains for the UFC as they help launch Fox Sports 1 with fight programming leading the charge for the all-sports destination.
While the initial launch of Fox Sports 1, with UFC Fight Night 26 leading the way, brought in an average of 1.78 million viewers over the broadcast, the last two efforts after shifting to Wednesday nights have seen significant decreases in viewership.
Last week's UFC Fight Night 27, headlined by welterweights Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann, brought in 824,000 viewers over the course of the broadcast. Now it has to be noted that the main event, specifically the final 15 minutes, peaked with just over 1 million viewers as Condit knocked out Kampmann in the fourth round.
This week's offering, UFC Fight Night 28 that originated from Brazil, ended with an even more significant drop in viewership as the broadcast generated an average of 539,000 viewers for the three-hour show (All ratings information provided by Nielsen via email on Thursday).
The viewership mark is the lowest of the three shows the UFC has placed on Fox Sports 1 thus far.
As for The Ultimate Fighter, which also debuted on Wednesday night with coaches Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate—the two-hour long broadcast brought in an average of 762,000 viewers.
The debut marks a drastic drop for the reality show compared to season 17 that debuted on FX with coaches Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen that pulled in 1.51 million viewers for its debut.
The move to Fox Sports 1 was expected to see a drop in overall viewership numbers given the nature of television, and the ability for fans to find the new network on their cable or satellite provider, as well as the change in nights once again.
The Ultimate Fighter 17 was on Tuesday nights after seasons 15 and 16 moved to Friday nights on FX. The show is now back on Wednesday nights, which is the same as when the UFC was in a partnership with Spike TV, but being on a new channel and network will likely see growth take time.
The Ultimate Fighter 17 averaged 1.32 million viewers overall on FX last season.
The Ultimate Fighter remains at 10 p.m. ET each Wednesday night, while the next UFC Fight Night will take place on October 9, once again from Brazil, with welterweights Demian Maia and Jake Shields heading up the card in the main event.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report
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