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UFC 257 prelims top Saturday cable ratings

Image: UFC

Saturday's UFC 257 prelims, which aired on ESPN prior to the pay-per-view event, averaged 1.433 million viewers.

The prelims drew a 0.54 rating in the 18-49 demo, which topped all of cable television in that category. It also beat everything on network television for the day with the exception of ABC's World News Tonight. 

The UFC 257 PPV was headlined by Dustin Poirier's second-round knockout of Conor McGregor. Early reports are that the PPV did 1.2 million buys domestically and 1.6 million buys in total.

Saturday was the first time ESPN had aired a PPV prelims block since UFC 252 in August of last year. That show averaged 943,000 viewers leading into the PPV that was headlined by Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier, which did 500,000 PPV buys.

Here are the viewership totals for the other UFC PPV prelims that aired on ESPN in 2020:

  • UFC 251 -- 1,000,000 viewers (July 11)
  • UFC 250 -- 950,000 viewers (June 6)
  • UFC 249 -- 1,470,000 viewers (May 9)
  • UFC 248 -- 1,190,000 viewers (March 7)
  • UFC 247 -- 1,480,000 viewers (February 8)
  • UFC 246 -- 1,770,000 viewers (January 18)

The UFC 246 PPV was headlined by McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone and did just over 1.35 million buys on PPV. It's unusual -- but not unprecedented -- that more people will buy the PPV than tune in for the prelims. UFC 257 did not have anything at all in terms of marquee value on the prelims, with the featured prelim being a fight that was put together the day before the show between Matt Frevola facing Arman Tsarukyan. 

A comparable event to this show would be UFC 202, headlined by the rematch between McGregor and Nate Diaz. That PPV reportedly drew a similar number of buys as UFC 257, and the prelims -- which aired on FS1 at the time -- averaged 1.3 million viewers. But that prelims show was headlined by Cody Garbrandt, who has way more name value than anyone who fought on this weekend's prelims.