by Ivan Trembow
TUF Season Premiere Draws Higher Ratings than First Season,
but Lower than UFC Unleashed
The second season of The Ultimate Fighter debuted on Monday night with ratings that were significantly higher than the first season’s averages in all key demographics. The show drew an overall rating of 1.7, which is a great rating by any standards on cable television.
However, last week’s episode of UFC Unleashed, in the same timeslot and with no hype behind it, drew an overall rating of 1.8, which has to make it disappointing when one week later the heavily-hyped season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter draws an overall rating that is less than 1.8.
This would seem to indicate that the general public is more interested in seeing actual MMA fights than they are in seeing an MMA-based reality show, even if the fights being shown are old fights such as last week’s airing of Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg, and Rich Franklin vs. Evan Tanner. Those fights were built up with great promos from the fighters in the first five minutes of last week’s UFC Unleashed, and the end result was a rating that out-drew the season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter one week later.
If the general public is indeed more interested in actual UFC fights than a UFC-based reality show, that would be both good news and bad news for the UFC. It would be good news for the UFC in the sense that their long-term goal is obviously to get more people interested in watching actual UFC fights (and buying UFC pay-per-views). At the same time, it’s also bad news for the UFC in the sense that they want to draw good ratings with The Ultimate Fighter every week, so that they can continue to get paid a decent “programming rights” fee by Spike TV for each episode.
The combination of UFC Unleashed on Spike TV, UFC 54 on pay-per-view, and the season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter have combined to give the UFC a huge amount of buzz. On Monday, August 22nd and again today on Tuesday, August 23rd, the phrase “Ultimate Fighting Championship” is the #1 most searched-for phrase on Yahoo.com… not just in the sports category, but in any category, which is a huge accomplishment for the UFC.
Ratings Up Drastically from First Season Premiere
While the Ultimate Fighter’s season premiere rating of 1.7 is disappointing in one sense, it does compare very favorably to the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. In terms of the overall rating, this week’s 1.7 rating is up from the 1.4 rating that was drawn by TUF’s first season premiere, and is also up from the 1.6 rating that the show averaged over the course of its first season.
In the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, which is the demographic that is most coveted by advertisers and Spike TV executives, this week’s season premiere of TUF drew a rating of 2.5. That is a huge increase from the 1.5 rating that was drawn by Week 1 of The Ultimate Fighter last season in the same demographic. This week’s 2.5 rating is also up from the Season 1 Average of 2.2 in this demographic.
If you break down the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic to look for which specific age group watches The Ultimate Fighter in the greatest numbers, the answer is the same now as it was in the first season: The Ultimate Fighter is most popular with males between the ages of 25 and 34.
While the first season of The Ultimate Fighter got off to a slow start last season with a Week 1 rating of 1.3 in this demographic, it’s exactly the opposite for Season 2. The second season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter drew a whopping 2.9 rating in the 25-to-34-year-old male demographic. This is not only a huge increase from what the show drew in Week 1 last season, but it’s also a huge increase from the Season 1 Average of 2.2 in this demographic.
In the broader demographic of 18-to-49-year-old males, this week’s season premiere of TUF drew a rating of 2.1. That is also a huge increase from the 1.5 rating that was drawn by Week 1 of TUF last season in the same demographic. This week’s 2.1 rating also surpasses the Season 1 Average of 1.8 in this demographic.
Comparing This Week’s TUF Rating to the Highest Ratings from Last Season
Looking back at each individual week of The Ultimate Fighter’s first season and comparing it to TUF 2’s season premiere, this week’s overall rating of 1.7 is tied for the third-highest rating that The Ultimate Fighter has ever drawn in the Monday at 11:05 PM timeslot. The only episodes to top it in Season 1 were Week 6 and Week 11.
In the key demographic of 18-to-34-year-old males, this week’s rating of 2.5 is tied for the second-highest rating that TUF has ever drawn in the Monday timeslot, with the first season’s Week 10 being the only episode to top it.
In the 25-to-34-year-old male demographic, this week’s rating of 2.9 is easily the highest rating that TUF has ever drawn in the Monday timeslot. In the first season, only one episode drew more than a 2.5 rating in the Monday timeslot (Week 10). No other episode even came close to this week’s 2.9 rating.
Finally, in the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, this week’s rating of 2.1 is tied for the second-highest rating that TUF has ever drawn in the Monday timeslot, with the first season’s Week 11 being the only episode to top it.
Check back with MMAWeekly every week for the most in-depth analysis of The Ultimate Fighter’s ratings that you will find anywhere.