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Surge in UFC viewership on ESPN

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has seen a spike in the linear and digital viewership on ESPN and ESPN+ since the return of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) amidst the Covid-19. Four pay-per-view (PPV) events have garnered average viewership of 1.17mn on digital platforms.

MMA has marked its return in May behind the close doors, but surprisingly has gained more eyeballs than before. Overall, UFC has produced 19 pay-per-view (PPV) events since its partnership with ESPN in January 2019. Three of the top five UFC pay-per-view events have occurred since the resumption of the event in May post lockdown.

Four events which have taken place post May have overall averaged 1.17 million viewers across ESPN’s primary channel and ESPN+ streaming service. UFC is gaining a lot of popularity amongst the audience and in coming times it is expected to expand and reach out to the audience through various platforms and mediums.

Roughly, UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi on 12th July saw 1.3 million viewers tuned into the series, including 900,000 in the US and 400,000 in international territories. UFC 252 in Las Vegas on 15th August outperformed overlapping broadcasts from other combat sports, recording an average 831,000 viewers and a peak 1.2 million audience.

UFC is one of the top ranking boxing events which is broadcasted on ESPN, Showtime, and DAZN. As per Nielsen, UFC’s preliminary coverage grew by 7% in the first 15 minutes followed by 87% in the first hour of the event.

The coverage of 15th August event reportedly averaged 169,000 viewers and peaked at 198,000 although DAZN has still not disclosed its numbers. Bouts involving featherweight boxers Carl Frampton and Michael Conlan are one of the top ranked fights with average viewership of 264,000 and peaked at 427,000 on ESPN.

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