by Ivan Trembow
The second episode of The Ultimate Fighter’s second season, which debuted on Monday, August 29th, broke the series’ all-time records in two of the most important ratings demographics. While the overall rating, which factors in all age and sex demographics, was only up slightly (from 1.7 last week to 1.8 this week), Spike TV was said to be thrilled with the far bigger increases in two key demographics.
In the advertiser-coveted demographic of 18-to-34-year-old males, this week’s episode drew a 2.8 rating, which is a huge increase from the 1.8 rating that was drawn by Week 2 of the first season in the same demographic. The 2.8 rating in this demographic is also a big increase from TUF’s first season average (2.2), and from last week’s rating in this demographic (2.5).
In the age group that watches The Ultimate Fighter more than any other demographic, 25-to-34-year-old males, this week’s episode drew an insanely high 3.7 rating. That is actually more than double the 1.8 rating that was drawn by Week 2 of the first season in the same demographic. The 3.7 rating in this demographic is also a huge increase from TUF’s first season average (2.2), and even from last week’s big rating in this demographic (2.9).
In the two aforementioned demographics, this week’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter was the most-watched episode in the Monday night timeslot from either season. This week’s 2.8 rating in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic tops the previous record, which was a 2.7 rating that was drawn by Week 10 of the first season. However, it still falls short of the 3.3 rating that was drawn in this demographic by the live season finale of The Ultimate Fighter in the Saturday night timeslot on April 9th, 2005.
Even more astonishing is the fact that this week’s 3.7 rating in the 25-to-34-year-old male demographic is the highest rating that any UFC programming has ever drawn, in any demographic, in any timeslot. The previous record for this demographic in the Monday night timeslot was the 2.8 rating that was drawn by Week 10 of The Ultimate Fighter’s first season. This was topped only by the 3.2 rating that was drawn in this demographic by the Saturday night season finale of TUF on April 9th. Now, even that record has been shattered by this week’s 3.7 rating among 25-to-34-year-old males.
Very few shows on all of cable television are able to attract such a large amount of the young male audience that advertising executives spend much of their careers targeting. These ratings have started to pay off not just for Spike TV, but also for the UFC in a big way. On last night’s show alone, there was premium-level, integrated-into-the-show advertising from three different advertisers: Right Guard Extreme, Transporter 2, and the United States Army.
The UFC’s shows on Spike TV are able to demand a far higher CPM rate from advertisers than WWE’s TV shows, which have among the lowest CPM rates on all of television due to WWE’s history of tasteless, crass, and sometimes even racist storylines. In addition, the advertising inventory for the second season of The Ultimate Fighter was sold by big-time advertising firms just like any other sports programming, whereas the first season’s ads were sold on the much less lucrative “scatter market.” As part of its deal with Spike TV, the UFC gets approximately half of the advertising space on its programs. For example, in an hour-long show with 16 minutes of commercials, Spike TV would get approximately eight minutes of that ad space, while the UFC would get the other half.