After just a single season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter: Live’ on FX, UFC president Dana White has confirmed that they will now be abandoning the live format altogether.
When the UFC first signed their seven year television deal with FOX, the new format of TUF with a live elimination fight each week was seen as a way to reinvigorate the long-running franchise as it prepared to make a fresh start on FX, but despite the initial excitement the end result has been a flop with the ratings falling throughout the course of the season until they reached an all-time low of just 821,000 viewers.
Despite that White made it clear after the shows conclusion that he “loved” the live format and hoped it would continue, but it appears that FX execs think otherwise and so it’s now been agreed that it’ll return to it’s original pre-recorded format.
The news is not too surprising. Live shows are costly to produce and offer up logistical challenges that in the end appear to have been more trouble than they are worth given the sub-par ratings.
Moving back to the tried-and-tested format of old on the other hand brings with it some additional benefits in terms of having more time to focus in on the big storylines of the season and advertise them more effectively (i.e. the “coming up next week” promos).
Aside from the live format the other big issue this season has been the switch to Friday nights from it’s traditional Wednesday night slot on Spike TV. Friday is a notoriously slow day on the ratings from and far from ideal for the young male demographic that TUF usually draws, and so many have pointed to that as a reason for the poor ratings that have been seen so far.
White is amongst those who appear to subscribe to that theory and he had hoped to convince FX to move it to another night instead, but it appears that for the time being at least it will remain where it is.
“FX wants to try it again on Friday nights, But if it’s not up to the standards I’m expecting, I’m pretty sure they’ll give me what I want,” White tells Yahoo! Sports.
The second season of The Ultimate Fighter on FX is now expected to take place in September focusing on a group of welterweight fighters. Despite increasing interest from fans in a ‘comeback’ season featuring ex-UFC fighters trying to fight there way back into the promotion – a format that was used successfully for TUF 4 – there’s no suggestion yet that this will be utilized for the forthcoming season.