Payout Perspective: TUF Live on FX Debut Rating Breakdown

March 14, 2012

The Ultimate Fighter Live debut on FX drew an average of 1.28 million viewers, as previously reported on MMAPayout.We will now take a closer look at the quarterly ratings breakdown, viewership ratings pattern, and expectations coming into the show.

The UFC ratings press release labeled the ratings as a “strong start” to the series, and according to John Solberg of FX, “Transformers” and the UFC led the channel to a #1 ranking on Friday (prime time) for the A18-49 and A18-34 demographics. We will now take a closer look at the numbers in our Ratings Breakdown analysis.


TUF Live FX Debut Ratings Breakdown:

Viewership for First Hour (15 Minute Intervals):


Viewership for Second Hour (15 Minute Intervals):

Viewership for Third Hour (15 Minute Intervals):

Total Average Viewers: 1.28 Million


TUF Live FX Debut Comparisons (Same  Friday  Time Slot):

TUF LIVE Premiere (FX) – 1.28 Million Average Viewers

TUF Friday’s (Reruns on Spike TV) – 653,000 Average Viewers

Bellator 60 Live (MTV 2) – 169,000 Average Viewers


Historical Comparisons and Notes:

TUF Premiere Episode Averages Seasons 1-14:  2.0 million viewers

TUF 14 Premiere on Spike – 1.5 million viewers (lowest of the 14 seasons)

TUF 13 Premiere on Spike – 1.5 million viewers (lowest of the 14 seasons)

TUF 12 Premiere on Spike – 1.6 million viewers

TUF 11 Premiere on Spike – 1.9 million viewers

TUF 10 Premiere on Spike – 4.1 million viewers (highest of the 14 seasons)

TUF 1 Premiere on Spike – 1.7 million viewers


Expectations from the UFC:

From a Dana White interview performed regarding the matter:

“Now that we’ve got this new platform, going on big Fox and FX, the amount of viewers that are going to watch, I mean this season of the ‘Ultimate Fighter’ with no promotion whatsoever is pulling between 1.5 and 1.8 million viewers (on Spike),” White said.

“We’ll more than double that when we go onto FX. I mean we’ll probably have more than 3 million viewers on FX watching the ‘Ultimate Fighter’.”

Expected Viewership: More Than 3 Million Viewers (Actual: 1.3 Million)


UFC’s Reaction:

Dana White’s answer after ratings were reported and asked if 1.3M was, as he tweeted, “:) sweet!”:

“yup!!! On a Friday night when our demo is out.”

White’s answer when asked by a fan if they could move their time slot away from Friday to improve ratings and not miss their demo:

“that’s when FX wants us on”


Payout Perspective:

There are a few things to point out here.  The most obvious and important one is the ratings pattern, which constantly declined throughout the show.  That is not a good sign for the UFC who was hoping to make a big splash for their debut episode on FX.  The second observation to point out here  is that TUF Live lost one third (33%) of their audience from start to finish, which also isn’t great.  The event was heavily promoted all over FOX properties and all over the internet, which makes the 1.3 million that much more disappointing.  It was also the lowest TUF season debut in the history of the series, although it did win the A18-49 and A18-34 demos as well as their head to heads with Bellator on MTV 2 and Spike’s TUF repeats.

The main complain that was loudly heard from the fans was that the show format just didn’t seem to work live.  There were many awkward moments with no commentary while the fights were going on and you heard talking and conversation from Dana White and the TUF coaches Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber discussing their observations, but it just didn’t seem to work out. John Anik’s usage seemed particularly odd, as he could have been doing the play-by-play but instead was relegated to doing interviews and announcements.  Most casuals we received feedback from labeled the event as “2.5 hours of random guys fighting one rounders that someone was filming from some underground location”.

The positive here is that this will not be TUF’s normal format, and their 30 minutes of drama and 30 minutes of fighting should improve the quality of the show, but you have to wonder how many first time viewers will return after that many turned their TV sets to another channel.   It will be difficult to gain traction with the Friday night time slot, but FX has made it very clear that it only wants to show UFC content on Friday nights and Saturdays on their network.Again, the typical format should be much more favorable to the casual and TUF fans, so we will have to wait and see how the next few episodes do to see if fans come back and settle in.

6 Responses to “Payout Perspective: TUF Live on FX Debut Rating Breakdown”

  1. Ed Stock on March 14th, 2012 4:52 PM

    Any numbers for Bellator’s first Friday night show of the year? I guess I’ll be (pleasantly) surprised if they did over 200,000.

  2. Jose Mendoza on March 14th, 2012 4:54 PM

    Ed Stock:

    It’s up in the write-up: 169,000.

  3. BrainSmasher on March 14th, 2012 11:15 PM

    I dont know why people keep complaining about the announcing. There has never been “announcing” during the “Fight to get in” first episode. It has always been 2 coaches and Dana White talking and making comments. Nothing changed in that regard at all. The ONLY difference is this drug on WAY to long. Ussually they can add in more comments from the coaches even if out of context to make them seem like they are talking more and they got to cut out the boring parts of the fight that nothing is being said. So you have talking to pass the time better. Live the talking was more spread out(still not announcing) and it made it seem even longer then they added 30 more minutes on top of it. If you look at the ratings at the start and compare it to where other season openers end the numbers are the same as they were the last 3 years. This is supposed to give TUF fans a taste of the fighters on the show. Instead they loaded our plates and we couldnt finish and walked away from the table. But the product was exactly the same it just wasnt condensed this time and it slowed the feel of the show down.

    They do need to work on how they are going to do the first show. But the rest of the season should be much better.

  4. Diego on March 15th, 2012 7:08 AM

    “they loaded our plates and we couldn’t finish and walked away from the table”

    Good analogy. It was simply too much. And rather than the usual build up of fighters you’ve never heard of leading to fighters you know a little leading to a popular main event, it was just fighters you’ve never heard of one after the other for 2 1/2 hours.

  5. Random Dude on March 15th, 2012 4:57 PM

    Previous season premieres of TUF would leave me excited about the season and the next expisode, whether or not it lived up to it. Without any previews of the upcoming season, the vast amounts of “nothing happening” outside of the fights, and the awkward and boring moments when something does happen like the coaches opinions, I am not excited about watching this season at all. I am usually always excited to watch the next episode of TUF even when it would sometimes/often disappoint because it was always packaged properly due to the magic of editing. There were also some pretty entertaining moments outside of the fights. This is not the case with this season.

    The one round fights also sucked. It also had the most commercials I have seen in any UFC product on television. Good thing I watch using a DVR, but I had to hit the jump forward button more times and sooner than any other time watching something UFC related. And it still ran over time somehow.

    Replays of fights weren’t as good due to the live format and the commentary on the replays was not as good as the edited Spike version.

  6. thebusinessman on March 28th, 2012 5:41 PM

    Spike must be laughing.

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