Can Live TV Save the IFL?
October 10, 2007
Alex Marvez has a good article up on FOX Sports featuring an interview with IFL co-founder Kurt Otto. The company is banking on live television to save the league.
“At the end of the day, we need to be live,” Otto said before last month’s IFL team championship in South Florida. “We are doing everything possible to make that happen and are getting very positive signs it could go in that direction. It’s going to completely change the dynamics of where we’re going to be.”
Pre-taped IFL shows building toward the team finale generated mixed results. The IFL’s Friday night telecasts on Fox Sports Net have averaged a .24 rating and roughly 200,000 viewers. That represents a 41 percent increase from 2006 programming in the same time slot. Audience gains were especially high in the male demographic, which is the core MMA fan base.
Ratings for two-hour Monday night IFL telecasts on MyNetworkTV dropped between the promotion’s February debut and the September 24 airing of New York’s team championship victory over Quad City. The IFL claims the Battleground finale did its usual average of a .6, which translates to about 950,000 viewers. Independent reports have the show drawing about 20 percent less.
Despite being MyNetworkTV’s highest-rated program this year, the IFL no longer has its Monday night timeslot because of a change in the fledgling network’s programming strategy. One-hour IFL shows air at 9 p.m. EST Saturday nights and have averaged about 700,000 viewers weekly.
“People want instant results,” Otto said. “They don’t want to wait … If (MyNetworkTV) would just give us an opportunity to go live, we’ll prove ourselves once again and try to double those (ratings). That’s my goal.”
While live fights can’t hurt, that factor alone doesn’t explain the league’s disastrous performance on MyNetworkTV. The brand’s failure in my estimation has a lot more to do with the team concept and a poorly produced television program that failed to build stars. It should be noted that they aren’t talking about going live each week, only once a month.