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Posted on November 14, 2011 by John Petit
Junior dos Santos was crowned the new heavyweight champion, the UFC put their first event on FOX tv, and early numbers report on average that 5.6 million Americans watched the 64 second fight. Now its time to digest it all, and figure out what all of this means. I think the UFC was expecting higher numbers, but with the way everything played out I am sure they are very happy with the way the event played out.
As far as the fights were concerned, we were treated to an excellent card. Dos Santos surprised a lot of people with the way he handled himself inside the Octagon, and was a true professional when it was all over (especially when you consider that he fought the bout with a torn meniscus.) Benson Henderson and Clay Guida fought to an impressive decision, but it was Henderson that was the clear winner. The undercard had something for everyone, and based on the fights alone I gave the event the grade of B. This was a big stage for all the fighters, even the ones on the undercard, and we saw the majority of them stepping upand putting it all on the line. That is all the UFC, or any of us really, can ask of the athletes who got into the cage in Anaheim.
I did not see the live broadcast portion and pre fight breakdowns because I was covering 3 cards last night, but I did see the whole hour the UFC put on for the fight itself. I think the emphasis was branding the fighters, and I think they did it well. Both Junior and Velasquez had well polished packages aired about their upbringing and their careers and families, and that’s exactly the kind of stuff people can identify with. Especially the ones who think these guys were sitting on bar-stools minutes before the fights. That is one thing I always thought the UFC did very well, but it was refreshing to see them bring that over to network television.
The only complaint I heard about the broadcast were the remarks UFC President Dana White made after the event. When asked about the fight, the outspoken White seemed to focus more on what Cain didn’t do instead of hyping up the new champion. I understand where people are coming from, and I think White may be a little to close to the action to speak. Joe Rogan or Mike Goldberg might be a better a choice for post fight analysis. I don’t think many people watched the post fight stuff anyway, but I think the UFC learned something from the event. That’s exactly what this event was all about, and we know how good the UFC is at adapting.
As far as the ratings are concerned, the UFC did great int he demographic they were aiming for, but according to FOX the show pulled an average of 5.7 million viewers. It makes it the most watched UFC event in history, it makes it the biggest heavyweight fight on network television, and in the 18-34 demographic is out-rated every college football game this season other than LSU-Alabama (easily the most watch game of the year.) The other side of the coin is many were predicting the numbers would be much higher. They still have a chance to go up, and obviously the peak will be much higher then 5.7 million, but some insiders told me they wouldn’t be surprised with a number closer to 10 million viewers.
The numbers will make the picture more clear come Monday or Tuesday, but the important thing for the UFC is the trending of the numbers. This is a 7 year deal for them, and they will make changes to improve them over time. The bad news is that they will have to use these current numbers to sell advertising for the next event. They will have no problem selling ads, but they would go at a high premium if they were able to draw numbers like the ones mentioned above. The event was a success for the UFC, and that’s not debate-able, but the key will be if they are able develop momentum over time through 2012. I predict that won’t be a problem for a company like the UFC.