The ratings are in for the UFC on Fox which featured a heavyweight championship bout between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos and they're a bit of a mixed bag. TV by the Numbers reports that the program averaged 4.64 million viewers, in third place behind Oregon vs. Stanford on ABC and a rerun of NCIS on CBS. UFC was in a very close second place in the critical 18-49 demographic with a 2.4 rating and a 7 share, just behind the Stanford's game and its 2.5 rating and 7 share among 18-49 year olds.
According to Dave Meltzer the show averaged 5.7 million viewers for the fight itself. "Everyone is happy with the number given there was only one minute of fighting," Meltzer wrote at the Wrestling Observer.
Bear in mind, these are preliminary estimates that are expected to rise about 20% after the West Coast viewers are factored in. The numbers were down from 4.81 million viewers for Cops in the previous time slot on Fox last night.
ESPN.com spoke with Fox Sports CEO David Hill:
Fox Sports chief executive David Hill admitted he and president Dana White discussed the "tactics" of booking a single, heavyweight fight in hindsight, but added he was overwhelmingly satisfied with the product.
"It absolutely delivered everything I hoped it would," Hill told ESPN.com. "I spoke to Dana and maybe, tactically, Dana didn't play it the right way. But this is what you get in this sport. This is world heavyweight champion action."
By comparison, the first-ever MMA event on U.S. network television, EliteXC: Primetime which aired on CBS in May, 2008, peaked with 6.51 million viewers for its headliner featuring Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson. Kimbo Slice also drew 6.1 million viewers for a tape delayed fight against Roy Nelson on Spike TV in 2010.
Even the ratings in Brazil fell a bit short of Dana White's bold claim that 60 million Brazilians would be tuning in. Early estimates from the Sao Paulo region have the UFC improving dramatically on previous performances, but only extrapolate to about 10 million viewers for the entire nation.