by Ivan Trembow – MMAWeekly.com
The sixth edition of the UFC Fight Night franchise, which was previously known as Ultimate Fight Night, drew a 1.5 overall rating on Thursday, August 17th. This rating is slightly higher than the 1.4 rating that was drawn by the UFN 5 special on June 28th.
Show was Designed to be a Strong Lead-In for TUF 4
One thing that UFN 5 and UFN 6 have in common is that both shows aired in particular timeslots for the specific purpose of providing a strong lead-in to another TV show on Spike TV. In the case of UFN 5 on June 28th, Spike TV hoped that the show would provide a strong lead-in for the premiere of Blade: The Series. In the case of UFN 6 on August 17th, Spike TV hoped that the show would provide a strong lead-in for the premiere of The Ultimate Fighter 4.
In both cases, the UFN specials themselves did not draw particularly strong ratings, but the shows that followed them still managed to perform well in the ratings. This is partially because the ratings generally grew for the UFN specials as the shows went on. In the case of UFN 6 in particular, the first hour averaged a 1.3 overall rating, while the second hour averaged a 1.8 overall rating.
The last time that a live UFC fight special aired immediately before the premiere of a new season of The Ultimate Fighter, it was April 6th of this year. On that date, the TUF 3 premiere was preceded by UFN 4, which was headlined by Stephan Bonnar vs. Keith Jardine. That installment of UFN drew an overall rating of 1.6, which is slightly higher than the 1.5 overall rating that was drawn by UFN 6 last week.
How UFN 6’s Ratings Stack Up to Previous UFC Live Specials on Spike TV
In total, there have now been nine live UFC fight specials on Spike TV (six UFN specials, and three live TUF finales). In several different ratings categories, UFC Fight Night 6 ranks near the bottom of that list.
The only previous live fight special to have drawn a lower rating than UFN 6’s mark of 1.5 was the aforementioned UFN 5 special on June 28th, which drew a 1.4 overall rating.
In the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, UFN 6 drew a 1.8 rating. The first UFN special, headlined by Nathan Marquardt vs. Ivan Salaverry in August 2005, also drew a 1.8 rating in that demographic, and there has not been a UFN special that has drawn a lower rating in that demo.
In the advertiser-coveted 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, UFN 6 drew a 2.2 rating, which is the second-lowest in UFN history for that demographic. The lowest is still UFN 1, with its 2.0 rating in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic.
Ratings for Individual Fights
As is usually the case with the UFC’s live fight specials, the lowest-rated portion of UFN 6 was the beginning of the broadcast, which is an indication that word of mouth helps to boost the ratings as any given UFN show is airing. The opening fight on the live TV broadcast, Josh Koscheck vs. Jonathan Goulet, drew a rating of just 1.1. This likely has very little to do with Koscheck or Goulet’s drawing power and more to do with the fact that the first match on a live UFC broadcast is almost always the lowest-rated.
Following an 18-minute gap in between fights, Dean Lister defeated Yuki Sasaki over the course of a three-round decision, and the fight drew a 1.4 rating. Just over 20 minutes later, Chris Leben’s fight with Jorge Santiago started, and it also drew a 1.4 rating.
Sixteen minutes after the Leben-Santiago fight ended, the previously recorded fight between Joe Riggs and Jason Von Flue started to air, and this fight was literally too short to have a rating.
Fourteen minutes after the conclusion of Riggs vs. Von Flue, the fight between Diego Sanchez and Karo Parisyan started. The Sanchez-Parisyan fight drew a 2.1 rating, which is a remarkable increase from the other fights on the show.
If casual fans were flipping channels and were only going to see one MMA fight on this night, Sanchez vs. Parisyan was a hell of a fight to see, and there can be little doubt that this was the kind of fight that creates new MMA fans. Even for those who disagreed with the judges’ decision, the fight was good enough that it more than likely left viewers with a very positive overall experience, making them significantly more likely to watch UFC fights in the future.
Network TV Competition, and Other Spike TV Ratings for the Night
UFC Fight Night 6 faced significantly weaker head-to-head network TV competition than previous UFN specials, although it was a tougher TV landscape than most Thursday nights in the summer time.
Airing head-to-head with UFC Fight Night 6 in the 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM hour, the latest installment of CBS’ Big Brother drew a 5.1 overall rating, while a repeat of Grey’s Anatomy on ABC drew a 4.7 overall rating. Meanwhile, NBC aired repeats of My Name is Earl, which drew a 3.9 overall rating, and The Office, which drew a 3.5 overall rating.
In the 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM hour, a repeat of CBS’ smash hit CSI was not the highest-rated show of the night for the first time in the summer 2006 season. The season finale of America’s Got Talent on NBC drew a 7.3 overall rating, just beating out the 7.0 overall rating that was drawn by the CSI repeat. In the meantime, ABC continued to prep viewers for the new timeslot of Grey’s Anatomy with another repeat airing of the show, which drew a 5.3 overall rating in this hour.
Airing head-to-head with UFN from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM was NFL Preseason Football on Fox, which drew a 4.2 overall rating and put Fox in fourth place for the night.
Also airing on Spike TV on Thursday, August 17th was the latest installment of the pro wrestling show TNA Impact, which drew an overall rating of 0.9. This was considered a disappointment, given the strong TUF lead-in audience. In addition, a new episode of UFC Unleashed aired from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM and drew an overall rating of 0.9.