The prelims for UFC 193 on Saturday night averaged 1,394,000 viewers on FS 1 up against College football and the Democratic debate. This was the highest viewership for a PPV prelims show since the UFC 183 prelims on January 31st. That was the show where Miesha Tate fought in the featured prelim fight. The main card was headlined by the Anderson Silva-Nate Diaz fight, which drew an estimated 650,000 PPV buys.
There is usually a correlation between the prelims number and the final PPV buys number, particularly when the prelims number is large. It should also be noted that on PPV shows where Ronda Rousey is fighting on the main card, the prelims number is up almost 50% over shows where she’s not on the main card.
It should also be noted that there was nothing even close to a big name fighting on the prelims, with the four fights all featuring Australian fighters against low-mid card fighters from the rest of the world, the most well-known being Gian Villante. The featured fight was Jake Matthews vs Akhbar Arreola, neither of whom has even fought on a televised main card in the UFC.
PPV prelims shows during the FS 1 era: 26 shows, 882,840 average viewers
PPV prelims shows during the FS 1 era where Rousey is on main card: 6 shows, 1,204,600 average viewers
PPV prelims shows during the FS 1 era where Rousey is not on main card: 20 shows, 802,400 average viewers
The theory behind this would be that Ronda Rousey is such a big name to the casual audience that the fact that she is fighting on the show raises awareness and brings up the prelims number.
Further evidence that the show did a very strong number of PPV buys is the following:
There have been 8 FS 1 PPV prelims shows that did at least 1 million viewers since the station started airing them in August 2013. Here are the PPV buys for those shows:
UFC 168 – 1,025,000 PPV buys (prelims – 1,550,000 viewers)
UFC 175 – 545,000 PPV buys (prelims – 1,000,000 viewers)
UFC 182 – 800,000 PPV buys (prelims – 1,040,000 viewers)
UFC 183 – 650,000 PPV buys (prelims – 1,546,000 viewers)
UFC 184 – 650,000 PPV buys (prelims – 1,205,000 viewers)
UFC 185 – 310,000 PPV buys (prelims – 1,003,000 viewers)
UFC 190 – 900,000 PPV buys (prelims – 1,332,000 viewers)
UFC 193 – ? PPV buys (prelims – 1,394,000 viewers)
UFC 185 was the exception here and that was a show headlined by a main event of Anthony Pettis v Rafael Dos Anjos. The only show during this time period that did a strong PPV buys numbers coinciding with a relatively weak prelims number was UFC 189, which did about 825,000 PPV buys and 847,000 prelims TV viewers.
No estimates are available at this time for how UFC 193 did on PPV although Dana White today on Joe Rogan’s podcast said that the show was trending at well over a million buys. These numbers would suggest that to be a distinct possibility.