The early numbers for last weekend’s UFC 240 preliminary card are not looking good.
UFC 240 went down last Saturday (July 27, 2019) from Edmonton. According to MMA Fighting’s Dave Meltzer, the prelims did a mere 722,000 viewers on ESPN. That number is the lowest rating since the UFC moved to sports giant ESPN earlier this year. In terms of UFC pay-per-view (PPV) events in 2019, the previous low for prelim ratings was 819,000 viewers for May’s UFC 237. That card featured a women’s strawweight title fight between Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade.
A lower UFC prelim viewership number was last reached when November’s UFC 230 from New York City averaged 635,000 viewers when the UFC was still airing on FOX Sports 1. However, Meltzer noted that the event faced significantly more sports competition on-air that evening.
Returns Not Looking Great
The peak moment for the UFC 240 prelims was 883,000 viewers for the women’s flyweight bout between Viviane Araujo and former women’s bantamweight title contender Alexis Davis. Overall, UFC 240 did 500,000 Google searches in an era where most UFC pay-per-view events get over 1 million searches. Based on that, UFC 240’s numbers would signal a low rate of PPV buys.
In demographic terms, the UFC 240 prelims were fourth on cable in the 18-49 age grouping. They came in third in its specific time slot. The prelims were first in males 18-34 and second in males 18-49.
However, the only major sports competition UFC 240 faced was major league baseball on FOX Sports 1 and the Tour de France on NBC. The MLB did 442,000 viewers and the Tour de France earned 1,051,000 viewers.
UFC 240 was most certainly a lesser-touted PPV for the promotion. It came three weeks after July 6’s blockbuster UFC 239 event from Las Vegas. That show was largely considered the most stacked event of 2019 thus far.
UFC 240 was far from that by comparison. It did feature a featherweight title bout between Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar in addition to the return of former champ Cris Cyborg. But overall, it had little else to spur buys. Asking fans to purchase two PPVs in one month is also a tall order these days as well.
Finally, the event came in the midst of a stretch of nine consecutive weeks with a UFC card, signaling possible fan burnout for the world MMA leader.
Are the UFC 240 prelim numbers legitimate cause for concern in the promotion’s ESPN era?