by Ivan Trembow – MMAWeekly.com
The second episode of The Ultimate Fighter 5 drew an overall rating of 1.3 on Thursday, April 12th. This is down slightly from the season premiere’s 1.4 overall rating, which was the lowest overall rating for any TUF season premiere to date.
The silver lining for the UFC and Spike TV is that despite the decrease in the overall rating, the show’s rating in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic actually went up slightly. Episode Two drew a 2.0 rating in this demographic, up from the season premiere’s 1.9 rating in this demographic. This is still down significantly from TUF 3’s average rating of 2.9 in this demo, but at least now it’s on par with TUF 4’s average of 2.0 in the demo.
In the week prior to Episode Two, it seemed as though all of this episode’s proverbial eggs were being put into one promotional basket: The tease that one or more fights would break out in the house during Episode Two. The ads for the episode were heavily focused on the heated arguing and near-fighting in the house.
This gambit did not pay off in terms of overall viewership. One of the major reasons is that this kind of behavior, and the producers’ eagerness to make an entire episode revolve around it and then focus heavily on it promotionally, serves to actually TUF less of a unique show.
There’s only one reality show on television that people can watch if they want to see professional fighters battle it out in MMA competition for a UFC contract (or several UFC contracts). On the other hand, there have been literally dozens of reality shows that people can watch if they want to see people get into heated arguments with each other in a house and subsequently get into scuffles or near-scuffles in the house. Every time there’s a fight or tease of a fight in the TUF house instead of in the Octagon, it makes TUF seem more like “just another reality TV show,” as opposed to “the reality TV show where they have an MMA fight at the end of each episode.”
The actual fight between Manny Gamburyan and Noah Thomas drew a 1.4 rating, as compared to the 1.5 rating that was drawn by the Episode One fight between Cole Miller and Alan Berube.
Compared to the first four seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, the current season is drawing higher ratings than TUF 4’s averages at this point, but lower ratings than all of the other seasons. The first season of TUF averaged a 1.6 overall rating, TUF 2 averaged a 1.4 overall rating, TUF 3 averaged a 1.7 overall rating, and TUF 4 averaged a 1.2 overall rating. The first two episodes of the current season have drawn overall ratings of 1.4 and 1.3, respectively. If the ratings hold steady and do not drop any further, TUF 5 would not be the lowest-rated season to date.
Airing before The Ultimate Fighter on April 12th, the pro wrestling show TNA Impact drew a 1.1 overall rating. Airing after The Ultimate Fighter on April 12th, the Ortiz-White special drew a 1.2 overall rating. Like Austin-McMahon before it, Ortiz-White was able to pique viewers’ interest.
Airing head-to-head on network television with the second episode of TUF 5 from 10:00 PM to 11:00 PM, a new episode of CBS’ freshman drama “Shark” dominated a new episode of veteran NBA drama “ER,” as “Shark” drew a 9.5 overall rating and “ER” drew a 6.3 overall rating. The continued losses for “ER” are getting increasingly embarrassing for NBC, but it’s not surprising for “ER” to lose when its lead-in audience is literally one-tenth the size of the lead-in audience for “Shark” (“CSI” out-drew NBC’s comedy block by the ridiculous margin of 13.4 to 3.4). ABC came in third place in the 10:00 PM hour, averaging a 5.8 overall rating for the hour-long series premiere of its new comedy, “Notes from the Underbelly.” Fox does not air national programming after 10:00 PM.