The ratings are in for Friday night’s Ultimate Fighter: Live premiere on FX and reveal that an average of 1.3 million viewers tuned in to the live show.
That’s not too impressive given that this was the long-running series big debut on FX boasting a new live format and had received a significant amount of advertising, yet failed to even reach the 1.5 million viewers that the previous season’s premiere had delivered on Spike TV.
It’s also been reported that ratings for the episode actually dropped as it went on which isn’t a good sign, although John Solberg over at FX does point out that when combined with it’s lead-in film Transformers 2, FX grabbed the No.1 spot for both Adults 18-49 and Adults 18-34 for Friday night.
Personally I feel there were some fundamental problems with the live broadcast that helped ensure the show didn’t perform as well as it should have.
I believe the opening show was geared to heavily towards hardcore fans despite the fact that TUF has always been a great vehicle for drawing a casual audience thanks to it’s reality tv stylings. Even some regular MMA fans were put off by the fact that there was no commentary and no crowd to give the over two hours of solid fights some context and atmosphere, so I’m sure people tuning in for the first time would have been somewhat bewildered by what they seeing.
We’ve already seen both a live ‘UFC On FX’ card and a prelim special delivering around 1.3 million viewers so on reflection it’s not surprising that what was essentially a similar concept except with completely unknown fighters and shorter fights hasn’t delivered improved ratings.
The good news for both the UFC and FX is that from this Friday onwards we’ll head into more familiar territory with clips showing what the fighters got up too during the past week taking up most of the show followed by just one live fight. That should make the show much more digestible for the casual audience and will leave a better impression of what the series is actually all about.
As a footnote – the old home of TUF, Spike TV, counter-programmed the show with an Ultimate Fighter special of their own which featured former contestant Kimbo Slice talking about his experiences being involved in the 10th season along with footage from it.
Airing at the same time as the new series on FX, Spike TV still managed to pull in an average of 653,000 viewers. Clearly some fans still aren’t getting the message that the UFC have now moved on, even although in a last ditch attempt to spread the word the UFC cheekily managed to get Kimbo to do a viral video urging people to tune in to the FX show.