Conor McGregor can draw a crowd in his homeland. | Ciarán Maher/Sherdog.com
Irish television executives’ eyes are smiling after seeing numbers for the live domestic broadcast of Saturday’s Ultimate Fighting Championship card in Dublin.
UFC Fight Night “McGregor vs. Brandao” marked the first time a terrestrial network aired a UFC event in Ireland, and the numbers surpassed expectations, setting new records for free-to-air channel 3e. According to a Monday release, the event was watched by 600,000 total viewers and peaked at 340,200, averaging out at 257,500 viewers for the broadcast as a whole.
While those numbers may seem small by American standards, they have to be placed into context. The U.S. has a population of 313.9 million; Ireland has a population of 4.5 million. The broadcast gained 21 percent of the nation’s television viewers that night. In the demographics for Men 15-34 and Adults 15-24, the broadcast scored 36.9 percent and 43.3 percent, respectively.
“Saturday night’s fantastic UFC ratings prove that there is a real hunger for MMA in Ireland, in particular Ireland’s own star attraction and showman Conor McGregor,” stated Jeff Ford, TV3 Group director of content. “3e was the first broadcaster to take the plunge and broadcast UFC live and free to air and the feedback from our viewers has been great.”
Garry Cook, head of the UFC’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) division, said: “This was a night that will go down in history within the UFC for the record sell out and viewership figures... The collaboration between UFC and TV3, not just on the night, but in the weeks and days leading to the event has shown how an integrated partnership can benefit both organizations.”
3e is the fourth biggest Irish TV channel, behind RTE1, TV3 and RTE2.