In what likely comes as little surprise, Fuel TV experienced several new ratings records last week.
The cable channel, part of the Fox network's portfolio, set new marks for its most-watched day, week and program in its history. Fuel TV announced the records Friday with viewership figures reported by the Nielsen Media Research company.
Fuel held a free preview week from Feb. 13-19, putting the channel in millions more homes than it normally reaches. The week's highlight was a UFC Fight Night featuring a main event welterweight slugfest between Diego Sanchez and Jake Ellenberger in Ellenberger's home town of Omaha, Neb.
That live fight card broadcast was the most watched show in Fuel TV history, picking up 217,000 total viewers. That was good enough to put the channel in the Top 10 of ad-supported cable networks during Wednesday night's 8-11 p.m. prime time slot.
For the free preview week, Fuel saw its total day average increase by 260 percent in total viewers as well as males 18-49 over the same period in 2011.
"We were hopeful we’d have strong ratings for our first UFC fight,” said George Greenberg, executive vice president and general manager of Fuel TV. "In addition to Fight Night, we created a special Fight Week theme, with extra UFC shows each day. The results delivered a ratings boost well beyond what was expected given the free Fuel TV preview. The preview raised our distribution about 24 percent, but the audience increases we saw completely blow that away. This proves to me that Fuel TV can play with the big boys.”
Fuel TV will air more than 2,000 hours of UFC content in 2012, more than any other network.