- TUF RATINGS SLIDE

September 21, 2005
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by Ivan Trembow
Ultimate Fighter Ratings Slide with Arrival of Monday Night Football as Competition

by Ivan Trembow

The ratings for The Ultimate Fighter have slipped in the past two weeks, thanks in part to a competitor that Spike TV seems to have underestimated: Monday Night Football.

Historically, ABC’s Monday Night Football has affected the ratings for WWE Raw, but only to a small extent. Also, while data from Neilsen Media Research indicates that the UFC draws much more heavily from the traditional sports-watching crowd on television than WWE does, The Ultimate Fighter had never gone head-to-head with Monday Night Football until last week.

Now, with the benefit of hindsight, it seems clear to most in the television industry that Spike TV made a mistake in scheduling the second season of The Ultimate Fighter to go head-to-head with the NFL, and it’s a mistake that is not likely to be repeated. (This won’t be a factor for The Ultimate Fighter 3, which is tentatively scheduled to be filmed in late 2005 and premiere on Spike TV in early 2006.)

After averaging a 1.7 overall rating for the first three weeks of The Ultimate Fighter 2, Week Four of the show drew an overall rating of just 1.4 on Monday, September 12th. This was followed by a slight rebound to an overall rating of 1.5 for Week Five, which debuted on Monday, September 19th. The effect has been just as severe for WWE Raw, which had been drawing ratings in the range of 3.8 to 4.0 for months. WWE Raw drew a rating of 3.3 last week (its lowest non-holiday rating in over a year), and a 3.6 overall rating this week.

TUF Ratings for Week Four

Looking specifically at The Ultimate Fighter’s ratings for Week Four on September 12th, the show drew an overall rating of 1.4, which is actually down from the 1.5 rating that was drawn by Week Four of the first season.

The 1.4 rating makes this episode tied for the lowest-rated episode of The Ultimate Fighter that has ever aired, matching the mark that was drawn by Week One and Week Two in the first season.

This episode of The Ultimate Fighter went head-to-head with the season premiere of Monday Night Football on ABC, which drew a monster rating of 12.7, including a 7.8 rating in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic. Also going head-to-head with The Ultimate Fighter on network television were NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno, which drew a 4.4 overall rating, and CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman, which drew a 3.6 overall rating.

TUF Ratings for Week Five

Week Five of The Ultimate Fighter 2 drew an overall rating of 1.5 on September 19th, which is down from the 1.7 rating that was drawn by Week Five of the first season.

The rating of 1.5 makes this episode tied for the fourth-lowest-rated episode of The Ultimate Fighter that has ever aired. The series also drew a 1.5 overall rating in Week Four and Week Nine of the first season, as well as Week Three of the second season.

This episode of TUF went head-to-head with the Redskins vs. Cowboys game on ABC’s Monday Night Football, which drew a strong 10.5 rating, including a 6.2 rating in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic. Also going head-to-head with TUF on network television were The Tonight Show on NBC, which drew a 4.6 rating, and The Late Show on CBS, which drew a 4.2 rating.

Putting Things Into Perspective After Five Weeks

Overall, The Ultimate Fighter 2 is averaging a 1.6 overall rating through its first five episodes. That is a slight improvement over the original Ultimate Fighter, which averaged a 1.5 overall rating through its first five episodes.

Though anything over 1.0 is considered a big hit on cable television, the UFC has established itself to such an extent that it has slightly higher expectations to deal with. A source at Spike TV tells MMAWeekly that the network continues to be “thrilled” with any rating of 1.5 or higher that is drawn by the UFC, while anything under 1.5 is considered a “mild disappointment” only because of the strong track record (and accompanying high expectations) that the UFC has established in its first year on Spike TV.

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