UFC Helps Fuel TV to Grow Viewers by More Than 100 Percent

Matt Saccaro@@mattsaccaroContributor IIIJanuary 7, 2013

NEW YORK - MARCH 06:   UFC president Dana White speaks at a press conference at Radio City Music Hall on March 06, 2012 in New York City.  UFC announced that their third event on the FOX network will take place on Saturday, May 5 from the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J.. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)
Michael Nagle/Getty Images

Fuel TV's partnership with the UFC has resulted in a banner year for the TV network; their prime time viewership increased 164 percent and their total daytime viewership increased 122 percent.

Fuel TV also finished first in year-to-year percentage growth in the following categories: households, total viewers and men ages 18-49. All other ad-supported cable networks were left in the dust.

"2012 has been an incredible year for FUEL TV," said Executive Vice President and General Manager of Fuel TV, George Greenberg in a recently issued press release. "We are excited to see the extraordinary viewership growth month after month."

Greenberg attributed Fuel's rapacious growth in 2012 to the UFC and its fans. 

"Driven by the power of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and its passionate and loyal fan base, we have seen unbelievable increases in all demos throughout the year," he said. "We know the trend will continue in 2013. The UFC product is without a doubt the major league of MMA and you cannot find this quality of fights anywhere else."

In the face of such success, it seems odd to think that fans and pundits initially had reservations about "burying" so much of the UFC product on a network that so few people knew about. Can you honestly say that you had heard of Fuel TV before the UFC signed its seven-year deal with Fox in August 2011?

The prevailing school of thought was that Fox was using the UFC's size and brand recognition to boost the fledgling Fuel TV network, while giving the UFC occasional exposure on FX and Fox (as well as an average of 100 million dollars a year) to make it worth their while. 

The numbers show that Fox's gambit worked. The UFC has brought unprecedented growth and success to the channel. 

Of course, cynics can (and likely will) argue that Fuel TV was so tiny and insignificant that the only place it could go was up. 

We'll have to wait until the end of 2013 to see which side—the cynics or the triumphalists—have the right of it.