ONE Championship has been known for routinely making bold claims about strong ratings and viewership amounting to billions, but their actual numbers from their 2021 debut on TNT weren’t good at all.
The card had their two most popular American stars in former UFC champions Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez. It also had a decorated Muay Thai star in Rodtang Jitmuangnon in the headliner, and viral star and Senegalese wrestling champion Reug Reug in the prelims to help drive interest.
It was a strong offering, with an even better lead-in on TNT with AEW and Mike Tyson’s return. It seemed to be the best case scenario for the promotion, but according to showbuzzdaily, its Nielsen ratings were a flop.
TNT’s pro-wrestling show AEW was the 5th highest rated show on cable, with a household rating of 0.28. Shortly after, ONE only produced a .08 rating in the same demographic, and dropped all the way to 88th with just 196,000 viewers.
This total is also lower than their major 2019 event that also aired on TNT, which drew 264,000 viewers at the time. That had a .09 rating, and was the 95th best show on cable that day.
MMA business and law expert Jason Cruz discussed the ratings:
“ONE will hold four events each week in April but one has to be concerned that it could only draw 196,000 viewers with one of the top cable shows on Wednesday night as its lead-in. Further, this was the big event with two top US names for people to watch. Yet, it couldn’t even garner 200,000 viewers.”
It will be interesting to see if ONE can rebound with the ratings on their future TNT events, but it could be an uphill battle as their next two shows significantly lack the star power that this show had.
In the two high profile bouts from the card, Johnson was shockingly upset and knocked out, while Alvarez lost by a controversial disqualification.
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