by Ivan Trembow
TUF Ratings Down in Week Three, WWE Fires Back at UFC
The third episode of The Ultimate Fighter 2 drew a disappointing overall rating of 1.5 on Monday night, September 5th. The series had drawn a 1.7 overall rating with its season premiere, followed by a 1.8 overall rating with last week’s episode.
Week Three’s rating of 1.5 is actually down from the 1.6 rating that was drawn by Week Three of the first season. It’s also down from the 1.6 average rating that the series drew in its first season on Spike TV.
This was also the lowest-rated episode of TUF in quite some time. The last time that a new episode of The Ultimate Fighter drew an overall rating of 1.5 or less, it was Week 9 of the first season, which drew a 1.5 overall rating on March 14, 2005.
For what it’s worth, the network TV competition that aired head-to-head with parts of The Ultimate Fighter also drew slightly lower-than-average ratings on Monday night. The Late Show with David Letterman on CBS drew a 3.6 rating, while NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno drew a 3.5 rating, and ABC’s Nightline drew a 3.3 rating.
In other news related to the UFC on Spike TV, World Wrestling Entertainment has fired back at Zuffa and Spike. Following the news that Spike TV will air a live UFC fight special on Monday, October 3rd in WWE Raw’s timeslot on Spike TV (which will go head-to-head with WWE’s return to USA Network), WWE officially announced today that it is pulling out the big guns for its October 3rd show.
In an official statement, WWE said, “Many former WWE Champions will be making their return to Raw on October 3rd, including Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley, and Triple H. Even Mr. McMahon himself will make an appearance.” The press release referred to the October 3rd episode of Raw as a “star-studded, historic night,” and the show itself is being billed, “A Night of Champions.”
While it’s obvious that any first-run show put on by WWE is going to crush any UFC show head-to-head in the overall ratings, that alone is not enough for WWE. The UFC could take a very significant chunk of WWE’s young male audience on that night, and WWE is pulling out all the stops to make sure that doesn’t happen.
There’s no doubt that even if Spike TV wasn’t putting the UFC head-to-head with Raw on October 3rd, WWE would still have tried to make a big deal out of the October 3rd episode of Raw on USA Network. However, there can also be little doubt that the head-to-head battle with the UFC, along with the huge amount of hard feelings that exist between Spike TV executives and WWE executives, are also contributing factors in WWE’s decision to hot-shot so many big returns on a single episode of a TV series that runs 52 weeks per year.
When WWE Raw moved from USA Network to Spike TV (then known as TNN) several years ago, the first week of Spike ratings were almost identical to the final week of USA ratings. Historically, when a pro wrestling show changes networks, pro wrestling fans have always been able to “find” the wrestling show that they want to watch (whereas many other kinds of TV shows experience big ratings drop-offs when they switch to a different network).
So, just the fact that WWE Raw is moving from Spike TV to USA Network is not reason enough for WWE to blow so many potential ratings-popping appearances in one night. The company’s ill will towards Spike TV, and even more so its fear of losing a chunk of its young male demographic, are likely what is driving WWE to pull out all the stops on October 3rd.