Since FX first took the reigns of The Ultimate Fighter reality-show at the start of the year many observers have questioned their decision to place it on a Friday night.
Given that the show’s key target demographic is 18-34 year-old males, putting TUF on a night when many of them are likely to be out enjoying themselves seemed counter-productive, and while it’s not possible to say for sure that this is the main reason, there’s undoubtedly been an alarming fall in the TV ratings for the show so far, dipping as low as 644,000 viewers for last week’s episode, compared with well over a million when it used to air on Wednesday nights on Spike TV.
It appears that FX are finally singing from the same hymn sheet as network executive Chuck Saftler has confirmed that January’s TUF 17 show will be moving to a new slot on the schedule.
“The show is going to move off of Friday nights,” Saftler revealed yesterday. “I can’t confirm the day right now, but it is definitely moving to a weekday. There will be an announcement on that sometime in the next 30 to 45 days.”
FX already has a stacked schedule that includes popular and critically acclaimed shows like ‘Sons Of Anarchy’, ‘Justified’ and ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’, so it’s good news for the UFC that despite sub-par ratings that they are still fully invested in making TUF a success and will make room for it in what should be a more popular night on the channel.
Part of that confidence appears to stem from the fact that they know they may have something special in the forthcoming season which will feature light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones and the UFC’s biggest trash-talker Chael Sonnen going head-to-head as the team coaches.
“Certainly with Jones and Sonnen as the coaches for this upcoming season, we have probably the best casting that we’ve seen for this show. And we have really high expectations for what the ratings will be as a result. We think we can move off of Friday, and with the casting, we have very, very big expectations for the ratings. They should be epic.”
With those two on-board and a more favorable spot on the schedule TUF 17 looks like it could be just the shot-in-the-arm that the franchise needs, but nothing’s guaranteed and if it fails to live up to expectations then the UFC could have a real problem on their hands.