by Ivan Trembow
The UFC has started to gain some TV ratings momentum, topped off by this week’s episode of UFC Unleashed on Spike TV. The Monday, August 15th episode of UFC Unleashed was the most-watched UFC-related broadcast on Spike TV since the April 9th live season finale of The Ultimate Fighter’s first season.
Debuting on Monday night at 11:05 PM, this week’s episode of UFC Unleashed drew an overall rating of 1.8, which actually surpasses the 1.6 rating that the first season of The Ultimate Fighter averaged in the same timeslot.
Even more impressively, the show drew a 2.1 rating in the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, which surpasses the 1.8 rating that the first season of TUF averaged in that demographic in the same timeslot.
In the demographic that is most coveted by advertisers and Spike TV executives, 18-to-34-year-old males, the show drew an even higher 2.3 rating, which is slightly better than the average rating of 2.2 that was drawn by the first season of TUF in that demographic.
This particular episode of UFC Unleashed featured three fights: Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg I from UFC 45, Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg II from UFC 52, and Rich Franklin vs. Evan Tanner I from UFC 42. This episode also featured more pre-fight promos from the fighters than previous episodes of UFC Unleashed, as the UFC re-aired the same pre-fight interviews with the fighters that aired before each match originally took place on pay-per-view. It could be argued that having the added context of an entire video package about the build-up to each fight made viewers more likely to stick around to see the fight itself.
In any case, the UFC is gaining ratings momentum at the right time, because this was the last week in which new episodes of UFC Unleashed will debut in the Monday at 11:05 PM timeslot. Starting next week on August 22nd, new episodes of The Ultimate Fighter will debut each Monday at 11:05 PM after WWE Raw.
Like last season, there will be 12 regular episodes of The Ultimate Fighter and one live season finale. Unlike last season, the show is going to change its timeslot in the middle of the season. The first six episodes, starting on August 22nd and going through September 26th, will debut on Monday nights at 11:05 PM after WWE Raw. At that point, WWE Raw will leave Spike TV and head back to USA Network, and The Ultimate Fighter will get a new timeslot.
Starting with Week Seven on Saturday, October 1st, each new episode of The Ultimate Fighter will debut in its new timeslot of Saturday at 9:00 PM. The show may or may not continue to air in the latenight Monday timeslot at that point, but new episodes will be premiering every Saturday night.
If the schedule change in the middle of the season throws you off, or if you forget which week it changes when the time comes, don’t worry: Each new episode of The Ultimate Fighter will still be replayed numerous times throughout the week on Spike TV.