Spike TV have access to the UFC’s back catalogue of fights for the rest of the year and they fully intend to use them as was seen on Friday night when they counter-programmed the live ‘UFC On FX 1: Guillard Vs Miller’ event with a night of Melvin Guillard’s previous fights.
At 9pm the Spike broadcast went head to head with the FX show and reeled in 648,000 viewers, while at 10pm that rose to 751,000 before falling back down to 543,000 at 11pm.
Meanwhile over on FX the UFC’s live broadcast drew 1.3 million viewers, some distance short of the average 1.9 million viewers they drew over on Spike TV in the past for ‘Fight Night’ style shows like this.
What this indicates is that the UFC still have quite a bit of work to do to fully spread the word to their casual fan base that Spike TV is no longer the home of the UFC’s live programming as you’d have to imagine that those watching the re-runs on that channel would have watched the new broadcast if they had known better.
I can say from my own research on Twitter during the fights at the weekend that there were some people who appeared to be under the impression they were watching the live fights even though they were on Spike, and UFC president Dana White also had to inform fans that it was actually on FX numerous times as well.
This is a problem the UFC could have avoided to an extent if they had complied with Spike TV’s wishes and bought out their rights to air the UFC’s programming library through 2012.
They opted not to however as that would have freed Spike from their exclusive MMA deal with the UFC and would have allowed them to then bring in Bellator Fighting Championships to replace them.
It’s a move that makes sense when you look at the bigger picture, but it does bring with it does bring with it the kind of short-term pitfalls we are seeing in the ratings above.