UFC 254 may be considered one of the biggest pay-per-view cards of the year, but its preliminary broadcast on ESPN2 actually had the lowest ratings of the year for the action.
According to the Nielsen Ratings System, the UFC 254 preliminary rounds on ESPN2 averaged 343,000 viewers on the two-hour broadcast from 12 p.m. ET. The card received a rating of 0.14 in the coveted 18-49 year old population, making the UFC 254 Preliminary Round # 44 for Saturday’s cable programming overall.
The pay-per-view card was spearheaded by Khabib Nurmagomedov’s last fight when he defeated Justin Gaethje in the main event. The preliminary map showed a heavyweight fight on top when Tai Tuivasa defeated Stefan Struve in the first round.
The top four programs of the day were all college football programs with three of those shows airing on ESPN. This is one of the reasons the UFC 254 Preliminary Rounds came across ESPN2.
The time window certainly didn’t help the UFC 254 preliminary rounds airing so much earlier in the day than the typical pay-per-view card that starts at 10 p.m. ET.
Overall, the UFC 254 preliminary rounds were the last to finish advertising pay-per-view cards in 2020. UFC 253 ranked second with an average viewership of 523,000, with that card also airing on ESPN2.
Strangely, the ratings for the UFC 254 Preliminary Rounds were the lowest since the UFC 242 Preliminary Rounds aired on FX in 2019, with 222,000 average viewers. This card also started at 12 noon CET when Nurmagomedov headlined the pay-per-view against Dustin Poirier.
The event was also streamed concurrently on ESPN +, a subscription-based service, and these rating metrics will not be provided.
The next major UFC pay-per-view release will be lowered on November 21st with the normal start time for the main card at 10:00 p.m. (CET), although full broadcast schedules have not yet been announced.
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