UFC 230 prelims averaged 635,000 viewers

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC 230 was hoped to be one of the year’s biggest shows.

At the press conference, Dana White talked about it being the second biggest pay-per-view of the year, obviously trailing last month’s UFC 229.

He wasn’t clear on what that meant, since it would be too early to get accurate pay-per-view numbers. By the end of the show, UFC would have its own streaming pay-per-view numbers, and that would be expected to be a strong indicator.

But the early results are mixed.

The prelims on FS 1 averaged 635,000 viewers, which would be the lowest number for FS 1 prelims since UFC 215, on Sept. 9, 2017. It did beat UFC 224 and UFC 228 this year that were on FX, but was the lowest of the eight prelims this year on FS 1. Prelim numbers aren’t always a perfect predictor of how the pay-per-view does, but they are usually a good indicator.

The prelims, headlined by Jordan Rinaldi’s win over Jason Knight by decision, also did 12,017 viewers streaming for an average minute. Rinaldi vs. Knight was the highest-rated match on the show with 808,000 viewers.

For Google searches, which are usually a strong indicator of the pay-per-view range, the show topped 1 million searches, which would have been in the expected range. Cormier’s two previous pay-per-view shows this year, the first with his light heavyweight title defense against Volkan Oezdemir underneath a Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou heavyweight title match, and the second his heavyweight title win over Miocic, both did a similar number of searches. Both shows also did about 375,000 pay-per-view buys.

Those would have been UFC’s second best pay-per-view numbers of the year, trailing last month’s Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor show, which early estimates pegged at just under 2.4 million buys. If this show did in the 375,000 range, it would have to be considered a success.

The show was heavily impacted by college football, most notably the 11,543,000 viewers for Alabama’s win over LSU on CBS, which was the most-watched game so far this season. ABC had Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech and did 3,135,000 viewers and ESPN had Notre Dame vs. Northwestern that did 3,293,000 viewers. FOX and ESPN 2 also had games head-to-head.

Thus far in 2018, pay-per-view prelims airing on FS 1 have averaged 835,000 viewers.

The pre-fight show did 205,000 viewers and the post-fight show did 188,000 viewers, airing after the completion of the USC vs. Oregon State football game on FS 1.

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