Weekend TV Ratings Wrap-Up (Spike, Showtime)

August 18, 2009

Spike Wins Head-to-Head with Showtime

Spike TV has claimed a clean sweep over MMA programming rival, Showtime, in last Saturday’s head-to-head battle, which pitted its UFC 100 replay against Showtime’s live Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg fight card.

Spike’s UFC 100  replay drew an average of 2 million viewers and 513,000 in the key 18-34 demographic, while Strikeforce on Showtime drew an average of 576,000 (MMAjunkie) with 181,000 in the 18-34 range.

In fact, the UFC 100 replay conquered all other sports on Saturday in the 18-34 demo: beating out the PGA Championship (CBS) 491,000 and MLB baseball (FOX) 242,000.

Spike’s Household Quarterly Ratings/Viewership

1.29: 1,826,000
1.30: 1,893,000
1.31: 1,888,000
1.38: 1,961,000
1.41: 2,013,000
1.49: 2,044,000
1.49: 1,937,000
1.57: 2,052,000
1.59: 2,044,000
1.74: 2,229,000

Spike’s Notable Editing of UFC 100 Special

Fightline has an interesting piece detailing some of the very notable edits made to the UFC 100 special that aired on Spike over the weekend. To quickly summarize:

  • Joe Rogan’s comments about Belcher getting robbed were cut out completely.
  • Henderson’s post-fight interview was edited to remove the portion where he claimed to knowingly give Bisping an extra shot.
  • Lesnar was shown receiving the belt, but the rest of the post-fight footage was cut (including the part where he flipped off the crowd and got in Mir’s face).

Payout Perspective:

It’s really no surprise that Spike outdrew Showtime; it’s a function of many factors but a great deal of it reflects the type of network and audience that both represent. Spike is part of many basic cable packages in the US and available to over 98 million homes; by comparison Showtime, a premium cable network, has an estimated subscriber base of 17 million.

If there’s a silver lining here for Showtime it’s that their 576,000 average is the best they’ve ever done for an MMA show:

2/16/2008 – EliteXC: Kimbo Slice vs. Tank Abbott (511,000)
6/22/2007 – Strikeforce-EliteXC: Frank Shamrock vs. Phil Baroni (365,000)
4/19/2008 – Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Diaz (364,000)
6/14/2008 – EliteXC: Return of the King: (350,000)
3/29/2008 – Strikeforce: Frank Shamrock vs. Cung Le (~300,000)

On the other hand, Spike and the UFC failed to exceed their record mark for a UFC event replay that was set by UFC 91: Lesnar vs. Couture; it drew an average household rating of 1.7, 18-34 demo viewership of 991,000, and overall viewership of 2.3 million (peaking at 3.3 million for the Couture-Lesnar tilt).

Finally, it’s quite interesting to see Spike and the UFC edit out portions of the UFC 100 card that were more than likely undesirable from a growth and public acceptance standpoint. It also leads me to wonder if a revision of some of their production policies isn’t in order.

Joe Rogan has stated repeatedly that he’s not given any instructions on what and what not to say (and I’d say this much is obvious given the numerous gaffes over the last few years, including the infamous “rape choke” – which says nothing about his commentary as a whole, everyone makes mistakes).

However, I question the wisdom in giving Joe free reign to continually probe the likes of Henderson and Lesnar knowing that, in certain circumstances, they may not be in the correct frame of mind and could potentially say or do something quite damaging for the sport.

Censorship, for the most part, isn’t a good thing. Yet, a strong argument could be made for the fact that MMA is still walking on a tight rope, and comments the nature of Henderson’s (and to a much lesser extent, Lesnar’s) could harm the integrity of the sport.

One Response to “Weekend TV Ratings Wrap-Up (Spike, Showtime)”

  1. MMASuPreMaCy on September 10th, 2009 12:40 PM

    Actually, Strikeforce won this battle. They needed to break 400-500K views on Showtime for the event to be a success (Kimbo vs Tank did 511K), and it did that with 576K average viewers and a peak of almost 900K. Those are the numbers they needed to get on CBS. It is impossible to go head to head with Spike TV since Showtime is a premium pay channel which only has about 16 million subscribers compared to the 98 million that have Spike TV.

    The reason the UFC countered the Strikeforce show with UFC 100 was so that they wouldn’t get above 500K viewers, which would mean CBS would balk on the idea that they are ready for PRIME TIME, cutting Strikeforce down before they can start running. This was the first test the Strikeforce passed with flying colors.

    Also, we should take this into account.

    Average Viewers:
    Spike – 98 million (2 million) – .0204 of total audience (Spike TV) Saturday night
    Showtime 17 million (576K) – .0338 of total audience (Showtime) Saturday night

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