On Saturday, UFC president Dana White claimed that UFC 205 “broke all company records”. One record it did not break, however, was the FS1 prelims viewership number.
The stacked four-fight card from 8-10 PM EST averaged 1.801 million viewers, almost tripling the UFC 204 prelims numbers but falling short of the company record. This was the third highest number that UFC has done for a prelims show since moving to FS1 with the two ahead of it lead-ins for shows headlined by Conor McGregor.
The record is 1.931 million for UFC 189 (McGregor vs. Chad Mendes) while UFC 196 (McGregor vs. Nate Diaz 1) did 1.863 million.
What this means for the PPV buys number remains to be seen as McGregor-Diaz 2 did 1.3 million viewers as a lead-in for a show that broke the company record for PPV buys with 1.65 million buys.
However, that show went up against strong Olympic coverage, leading to the theory that people simply bought the PPV without watching the prelims, similar to what happens for big boxing events.
For this past Saturday, the prelims had strong competition from college football on ABC and FOX that did a combined 10.7 million viewers head-to-head. Another 3.5 million viewers combined watched other games on ESPN and ESPN 2.
Here is the history of UFC PPVs headlined by McGregor along with the prelims numbers for those shows. The number in the PPV column for UFC 205 is what it would end up if the ratio holds true. However, it’s not necessarily indicative of anything in regards to that final number: