UFC 254 may go down as one of the biggest pay-per-view cards of the year, but the preliminary broadcast on ESPN2 actually returned the lowest ratings of the year for the promotion.
According to the Nielsen Ratings System, the UFC 254 prelims on ESPN2 averaged 343,000 viewers over the two-hour broadcast starting at 12 p.m. ET. The card earned a .14 rating in the coveted 18-49 year old demographic, which made the UFC 254 prelims No. 44 overall for cable programming on Saturday.
The pay-per-view card was headlined by Khabib Nurmagomedov’s final fight as he defeated Justin Gaethje in the main event. The preliminary card featured a heavyweight bout in the top spot as Tai Tuivasa knocked out Stefan Struve in the first round.
The top four programs of the day were all college football related with three of those shows airing on ESPN, which is part of the reason why the UFC 254 prelims were bumped to ESPN2.
The timeslot certainly didn’t help either with the UFC 254 prelims airing so much earlier in the day than the typical pay-per-view card that starts at 10 p.m. ET.
Overall, the UFC 254 prelims finished last for the promotion for pay-per-view cards in 2020 with UFC 253 coming in second place with 523,000 average viewers with that card also airing on ESPN2.
Funny enough, the ratings for the UFC 254 prelims were the lowest since the UFC 242 prelims aired on FX in 2019 with 222,000 average viewers. That card also started at 12 p.m. ET with Nurmagomedov headlining the pay-per-view against Dustin Poirier.
The event was also simulcast on ESPN+, which is a subscription-based service and those ratings figures are not made available.
The next major UFC pay-per-view will go down on Nov. 21 with the normal start time for the main card at 10 p.m. ET, although full broadcast plans have not been revealed yet.