Regardless of how exactly you felt about the programming on Fox Sports 1 on Saturday (including the polarizing Fox Sports Live), ratings are in for the network's premiere, and the suits at Fox have to be pleased.
The evening's big ratings winner was, of course, the live UFC Fight Night event. The three hour card, main evented by part-time Fox commentator Chael Sonnen's submission win over Shogun Rua, drew 1.78 million viewers and a 1.38 rating. That is the second highest viewership total for a FS1 or FX card to the show on FX in Januay main evented by Michael Bisping and Vitor Belfort, which drew 1.86 million viewers and a 1.27 rating. The card pummeled the average of FX fight cards, topping their average rating by 49% and their average viewership total by 38%. The UFC card also beat all four major networks (including Fox's broadcast channel) in all of the major demos. I don't even need to mention that the show obliterated what aired at a comparable time on Speed, Fuel, and Fox Soccer last year, drawing more than ten times more viewers in the primetime time slot.
As for the rest of the day of FS1, results were encouraging. Fox Sports Live's premiere drew a 0.2 rating and attracted 476,000 viewers, more than twice the third quarter 2012 average of Speed programs in the same timeslot. Sure, SportsCenter still beat them, drawing a 0.6 rating, but nearly half a million viewers on a Saturday at 11 PM on a brand new channel is nothing to sneeze at. If anything, that kind of viewership for FS1's flagship program shows the gap that already exists between them and NBCSN. NBC Sports Talk averaged a mere 27,000 viewers in the first few months of its existence.
It's been said before, and it'll be said again: this is a marathon, not a sprint. But everyone at Fox should be thrilled with FS1's first day on the air.