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Rousey Popularity Lifts Fox Sports 1

Lead-in programming ahead of the UFC 190 main event -- in which Ronda Rousey knocked out her opponent, Bethe Correia, in 34 seconds (video highlights) -- peaked at 1.6 million viewers on Fox Sports 1 on Saturday (Aug. 1), making it the most-viewed program among ad-supported cable sports networks in primetime, Fox Sports said. The performance was the third-best ever for pre-pay-per-view event fare on FS1, riding a wave of interest in Rousey.

The blonde Rousey has become a star outside of her mixed-martial-arts fame. As this blog notes, she's made movie appearances (Furious 7, the Entourage movie), has been on a recent cover of Sports Illustrated and made headlines at the ESPY Awards. After winning an ESPY as best fighter, in a field that included PPV boxing titan Floyd Mayweather, she jabbed at Mayweather, who has a history of domestic violence, saying she wondered "how Floyd feels being beat by a woman for once."  

Fox said that Saturday night’s UFC preliminary bouts (8-10 p.m. PM ET) averaged 1,322,000 viewers before peaking at 1,599,000 viewers (9:15-9:30 p.m. ET). That was 13% better on a household rating basis (1.04 vs. 0.92) and 10% better on an average audience basis (vs. 1,205,000) compared with the preliminary matches on FS1 before Rousey’s last main event PPV card (Feb. 28). That time she defeated challenger Cat Zingano at UFC 184 in 14 seconds.    

The Fox Sports 1 UFC 190 pre-fight show on Saturday (7-8 p.m. ET) drew 518,000 viewers, making it the third most-watched PPV prefight yet on the network, which converted from Speed in August 2013. 

After Rousey dispatched Correia in their bantamweight title fight, the FS1 UFC 190 post-fight show (1:42-2:42 a.m. ET) attracted 438,000 viewers, making it the second most-watched UFC 190 post-fight show yet on FS1.

On Friday, a repeat of UFC Main Event: UFC 168 Rousey Vs Tate Friday night (9-10 p.m. ET) had 388,000 viewers, a record for the program on FS1.  The 10 p.m. Friday night telecast of a special edition of UFC Tonight focusing on Rousey had 396,000 viewers, the most viewers yet for an airing of UFC Tonight, all according to FS1.

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