by Ivan Trembow – MMAWeekly.com
The third installment of IFL Battleground on MyNetworkTV drew an overall rating of 0.8 on Monday, March 26th. The previous week’s episode drew an overall rating of 0.7, while the series premiere two weeks earlier drew an overall rating of 0.8.
In the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, the show drew a rating of 0.8, which is the series’ highest rating yet and also broke all of MyNetworkTV’s records for 18-to-34-year-old male viewership.
The premiere of IFL Battleground drew a 0.7 rating in this demographic, and the second episode drew a 0.6 rating in this demographic.
Prior to the IFL’s debut, MyNetworkTV averaged an anemic 0.2 rating in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic.
IFL Pleased with Battleground’s Ratings
The IFL has been pleased with Battleground’s ratings thus far. Gareb Shamus, the co-founder of the IFL, tells MMAWeekly, “Our show is setting all kinds of records for [MyNetworkTV]. Their network has really been an all-female network. We’re not only keeping the women, but we’re increasing the number of males dramatically, especially 18 to 34 year olds.”
Shamus continued, “[MyNetworkTV] needs to create ‘tent-pole’ shows that they can build around. That’s what [IFL Battleground] is. Fox understands that they can’t turn a network around overnight. They don’t see us as a short-term play. They see us as long-term.”
IFL Ratings vs. UFC Ratings
In the IFL’s first three weeks with a consistent, national television timeslot, IFL Battleground has averaged 1.1 million viewers, 1.0 million viewers, and 1.1 million viewers, respectively.
In the UFC’s first three weeks with a consistent, national television timeslot back in January 2006, the first three episodes of The Ultimate Fighter averaged 1.7 million viewers, 1.7 million viewers, and 1.8 million viewers, respectively.
Of course, The Ultimate Fighter had WWE Raw as its lead-in for those episodes, which was a big advantage for the UFC.
On the other hand, the IFL has a big advantage of its own in the sense that IFL Battleground airs on a broadcast TV network that is available in approximately 110 million U.S. households, whereas The Ultimate Fighter airs on a cable network that is available in approximately 90 million U.S. households.
The latest repeat airing of UFC Unleashed on Spike TV, which aired on March 27th from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM, drew an average of approximately 900,000 viewers, compared to 1.1 million viewers for the episode of IFL Battleground that aired one night earlier on MyNetworkTV. The most recent live installment of UFC Fight Night, which aired on January 25th, drew an average of approximately 2.3 million viewers.
IFL Ratings vs. Previous MyNetworkTV Ratings
Compared to the dramas that aired on MyNetworkTV on Monday nights in February 2007, IFL Battleground has drawn 60% higher overall ratings and 250% higher ratings in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic. However, the significance of this is tempered by the fact that MyNetworkTV has struggled so much since it launched last September.
Based on everything we know about the situation and everything that has been reported in television industry trade journals, MyNetworkTV may or may not be in existence a year from now if the network’s ratings don’t improve in the coming weeks and months.
Compared to what the same stations that are now MyNetworkTV affiliates were drawing last year when they were UPN or WB affiliates, the ratings for MyNetworkTV’s programming hasn’t stacked up. The WB and UPN ended up merging to form The CW Network in part because both UPN and The WB were losing large amounts of money and were not sustainable over the long run with the ratings that they were drawing.
The struggles of MyNetworkTV are certainly not the IFL’s fault, as IFL Battleground has been the lone bright spot on the network’s line-up and has significantly increased the network’s 18-to-34-year-old male averages.
If anything, the IFL is currently providing MyNetworkTV with the best chance it has to turn around its fortunes as a network. However, just the fact that the IFL’s ratings are good by MyNetworkTV’s standards isn’t all that much of an accomplishment. While any number of other fledgling sports leagues would do anything to get the broadcast TV exposure that the IFL is getting, that doesn’t change the fact that this particular broadcast network is struggling to survive.
IFL Ratings vs. UPN, WB, and CW Ratings
A more pertinent comparison would be the IFL’s current ratings on MyNetworkTV (0.8 overall this week) vs. the ratings that the now-defunct/merged UPN & WB were drawing one year ago.
On the nearest Monday one year ago (March 27, 2006), The WB aired a new two-hour episode of Everwood, which averaged a 2.3 overall rating. On the same night, UPN averaged a 2.2 overall rating with a comedy block featuring One on One, All of Us, Girlfriends, and Half & Half.
The closest network to MyNetworkTV in the current TV landscape is the offspring of The WB and UPN: The CW Network. Both MyNetworkTV and The CW Network are broadcast networks in the sense that they are available in over 95% of U.S. households, regardless of whether or not those households have cable television. On the same night that IFL Battleground drew a 0.8 overall rating on MyNetworkTV (March 26, 2007), The CW Network averaged a 1.8 overall rating with a comedy block featuring Everybody Hates Chris, All of Us, Girlfriends, and The Game.
Head-to-Head Competition on the Big Four Networks
Shows on the Big Four broadcast networks that aired head-to-head with the March 26th installment of IFL Battleground included ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, which drew a massive 12.4 overall rating for the first half of a two-hour episode. Also airing from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM was the first half of a two-hour Deal or No Deal on NBC, which drew a 7.0 overall rating. A new episode of Prison Break drew a 5.2 overall rating on Fox, while the last-place finisher among the Big Four networks was CBS, whose repeats of How I Met Your Mother and The New Adventures of Old Christine both drew 4.0 overall ratings.
Airing head-to-head with IFL Battleground in the 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM hour, the ratings for Dancing with the Stars on ABC increased even further, as the show drew a 13.6 overall rating in this hour. The second half of NBC’s Deal or No Deal beat out Fox’s 24 for second place by the narrow margin of 7.6 to 7.2. Bringing up the rear among the Big Four networks in this hour was CBS, as a repeat of the most-watched comedy on television, Two and a Half Men, drew a 6.6 overall rating, and a repeat of freshman comedy Rules of Engagement drew a 5.3 overall rating.