As expected, Fuel TV's inaugural UFC fight night notched ratings records for the service.
UFC on Fuel TV: Sanchez vs. Ellenberger on Feb. 15, which showcased exclusive coverage of six of the mixed martial arts group's bouts, became the most-watched program and evening of primetime programming in network history. From 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., Fuel averaged 216,000 viewers, a total that included 129,000 guys 18 to 49, according to Nielsen data. The latter total made Fuel the ninth-ranked network in cable with the demo that night.
Those deliveries represented respective gains of 1340% and +2050%, over the network's average in February 2011, according to network officials
Previously, Fuel's two largest audiences came from live UFC preliminary bout coverage for UFC on FX 1 on Jan. 20 and UFC on Fox 2 on Jan. 28, which averaged 148,000 and 144,000 total viewers, peaking at 237,000 and 212,000.
The live fights from 8 p.m. to 11:03 p.m. averaged 217,000 viewers and 130,000 of the aforementioned demo.18-49, increases of 1347% and 2067%, respectively, versus last February's averages. Viewership peaked in the 10:45 p.m. quarter hour with 315,000 viewers.
Boosted by the live UFC action, network officials said Feb. 15 now stands at the most-watched day in Fuel history with a total-day average audience gains of 520% with viewers and 580% among males 18 to 49, over February 2011 averages.
"We fully expected the UFC was going to deliver Fuel TV extraordinary ratings, and now we're seeing it," said George Greenberg, executive vice president and general manager of Fuel in a statement. "We are beyond ecstatic about the audience and the impact the UFC is having on our network's growth thus far. The sky's the limit on where this network can go from here."
In 2012, Fuel, as part of Fox Sports' seven-year, $700 million deal with UFC, will telecast more than 2,000 hours of the MMA organization's programming, with more than 100 hours of live fights, weigh-ins, preliminary bouts, and pre- and post-fight shows. That's more more UFC programming than any network has ever offered.