The UFC on Fox is starting to gain momentum, as the sixth installment on Saturday night drew an overnight total of 3.77 million viewers, up from 3.41 million viewers during December's edition. Saturday's UFC show also drew a 1.8 in the 18-49 demo, crushing all other network programming during the evening and up from a 1.6 in the same demo in December.
Saturday's show was highlighted by a flyweight title fight between Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson, a big stage for the relatively untested division. It's a good omen for the company in the future that the flyweights pulled a solid number in primetime on Fox, and will quell some of the doubters that believe lighter weight classes will never be taken seriously.
But to be fair, it's not as if the UFC had a ton of competition on Saturday. ESPN was airing the second half of a North Carolina-NC State basketball game that NC State led by 19 at the half, and led by as many as 28 in the second half. After that game concluded, they aired the Winter X-Games. There were no nationally televised NHL games on NBC or NBC Sports Network, As for the NBA, there was just one nationally televised game (on NBA TV, mind you), and it didn't start until 9:30 in the east.
The next UFC on Fox show will take place on April 20th, and will feature Benson Henderson defending his lightweight championship against former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez, who hasn't lost a fight in four and a half years. The co-main event features another Strikeforce import, the undefeated heavyweight Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier, taking on former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir. However, there's going to be a little bit more competition on that night: namely, the first day of the NBA playoffs. We obviously don't know who's playing and when, but last year, ESPN and ABC ran a tripleheader. There's a potential audience loss there, and without the NFL to promote the show, the viewership could drop more. However, there aren't any nationally televised NHL games on that day, there aren't any major boxing fights (yet), and the NASCAR race that weekend is on a Sunday. Fox will also be in full swing with their nationally televised baseball broadcasts at that time, and with a likely 4 PM start time, they'll likely plug the UFC show ad nauseum to get people to stick around after the game.
It's definitely a solid sign for the UFC, and if these ratings can stay this high in April, I think we can officially declare that things are good in this relationship.
[TV By The Numbers]