The masses have yet to truly understand and embrace what the sport of Mixed Martial Arts is. It is a popular sport, yes, but still widely misunderstood.
The UFC’s debut on Fox should expect massive ratings if for nothing else than morbid curiosity.
November 12th, 2011 will be the first time in the history of the UFC that they will be broadcast on network television to a prime-time audience. It is an entirely new realm for not only the UFC, but for all of MMA.
One big portion of the UFC on Fox ratings will be new viewers who have been on the fence about the sport. Up until the UFC was broadcast on Spike, the only way to get any event was by way of pay-per-view.
Even after the UFC aired some free cards on Spike, fans could only watch the big cards, the main events, via pay-per-view.
Now new fans can dip their toes in, without the need to worry about a hit to their checking account.
There will also be people tuning in to reaffirm their already biased and rigid beliefs about the sport. That it’s too violent or that it’s not really a sport. Perhaps some of them will have a change of heart—but probably not many. It’s still ratings though, and ratings are good.
But the biggest reason, the reason the sport has grown and will continue to grow, is morbid curiosity. It is a curiosity that is piqued in the caveman part of our brain.
It is that part of our brain that wants to tune in, just to see if maybe, what we fear and relish at the same time might happen. That someone might get hurt.
Those viewers, the viewers who tune in to see two men beat each other senseless, they’ll become fans. That’s how we all became fans. Because we wanted to see two men fight, and ended up finding a sport that defined us.
We all have that desire to peek behind the curtain, to look at the goriest part of a movie, to see something that really turns our stomach.
The UFC and Fox—they’re banking on that part of the human psyche.
They’re banking on the fact that lots of new viewers who want to see a blood bath will tune in to see one, and end up finding a sport they love instead.