It was recently announced that FOX Sports Media Group would be launching FOX Sports 1 this August, and for UFC fans, that means a change in where programming airs.
FX will no longer carry any sort of sporting events, pushing all of the previously ran FX and FUEL TV cards to FOX Sports 1. Pre-event shows are also expected to air on FS1 starting in August, along with prelims for both FOX and pay-per-view cards.
Yes, “big” FOX as the UFC likes to refer to it as, will likely still host events of more importance, but the “smaller” cards are expected to air on Wednesday nights and not Saturday after the debut program.
This makes complete sense for both sides, especially since the timing coincides with the start of college football season.
You see, regardless of how big of a MMA fan you are, the sport cannot compete head-to-head with college football and the tradition it brings to television. Heck, it doesn’t even take a big-time game like Notre Dame vs. Southern Cal to generate larger ratings than UFC shows.
Let’s take a quick look back at the TV numbers from this past college football season:
• ESPN and ABC partnered together to bring Saturday night games into primetime nearly every week, generating an average of 6.52 million viewers for the network. That includes a 4.0 rating over the course of the season, which typically runs from late August into early December.
• On one specific Saturday in October – a day after the UFC aired an event on Friday night – ABC FOX and NBC combined for over 12 million viewers to college football. ABC led the way with 4.95 million, FOX had 4.36 million and NBC generated 3.5 million.
• Breaking it down a little more, the key demographic – adults 18-to-49 years old, were at 1.4, 1.4 and 1.1 for each of the networks.
By switching live programming over to Wednesday nights, what will the UFC have to compete against?
Well, not much to be honest.
Yes, there are the typical network-aired programs that have their devout followers, but college football is centered around teams from smaller conferences such as Kent State, Akron and Ohio – not quite the Notre Dame, Alabama, USC squads that people tune in to see.
The kinks are still being worked out, but if all goes as planned, the UFC could see some significant number increases by switching to FS1 and Wednesdays.