Promotional power is one of the most important aspects of success when it comes to professional sports. The more people that hear about the upcoming event and its stars, the more potential spectators are created. The Ultimate Fighting Championship is taking full advantage of their partnership with Fox Sports as the kickoff of the 2013-2014 saw not only football action this past Sunday, but the promotional strategy of the UFC on their new network home.
In 2012 the National Football League hit record highs in viewership throughout the season. Here are just a number of the accolades that the NFL brought in during the busy sports part of the year: NFL games accounted for 31 of the 32 most watched TV shows among all programming during the 2012-2013 season; an NFL game was the most watched TV show during all 17 weeks of the regular season; NFL games on CBS, Fox and NBC averaged 19.3 million viewers during the season; Sunday late afternoon games continued to draw more viewers than anything else that was available on television. All of these numbers were provided by the NFL communications department.
How does that translate into power for the UFC? One would just have to look back to this past weekend for examples. During the games that were played on Fox, both the early and late afternoon games, the promotional material for the new season of The Ultimate Fighter received prominent placement on air. Multiple times the broadcasters spoke about the newly debuted season and some even mentioned particular contestants by name. The allure of Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate not withstanding, this is a major opportunity for the UFC to capitalize off of this partnership.
Ratings wise, the best UFC on Fox cards last year were those that were presented during the football season. UFC on Fuel TV 5 was the first card of 2012 that was on free television during the 2012-2013 NFL season. That card and 4 of the 6 that followed hit more than one million households. UFC on FX 6 came close with 972 thousand and UFC on Fuel TV 6 had marred viewership due to being in Macau.
The UFC should expect even bigger numbers this year while being the flagship of the Fox Sports Network. While ratings have dipped since the 1.7 million viewers that was brought in by UFC on Fox Sports 1; it is vital to keep a close eye on the ratings of TUF 18 along with the upcoming cards for the rest of 2013. If promoted correctly the UFC has an opportunity to boost themselves to high numbers on “slow” sports nights.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship is looking to ride on the shoulders of the most popular sport in North America as the 2012-2013 NFL season has gotten off to a roaring start. These next few months are important in gauging the direction that the UFC is headed as Fox has thrown their full promotional strength behind their new bedfellow.