Fox looks at TUF ratings differently

December 8, 2013

The Sports Business Journal (subscription required) reported the ratings of this past season’s Ultimate Fighter and addressed the reasons for its 22 percent viewership drop in its first season on FS1.  But Fox execs are not worried as it is assessing the overall consumption of the reality show.

According to the article, the overall consumption of the series is up 8 percent over last year when it was on FX.

TUF 18 featuring Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate had hoped to make a splash by having men and women fighters in a house.  The belief would have had viewers excited by the novelty of men and women sharing the same house and coupling that with the fierce rivalry between Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate. They also had hoped it would make a big splash on the new network FS1.   Instead, many were turned off by Rousey’s behavior during the show.  The ratings did not reflect the hope that it would gain traction with fans.  For a while, the viewership reflected the interest in the women’s fights as there was a spike each week the women fought.

According to the SBJ, TUF 18 averaged 648K viewers which is down from 832K viewers last season when it ran on FX.  Fox sports execs are viewing the ratings differently as it is not assessing the overnight ratings as it would a live sporting event.  Rather, the tact is to view the ratings in total which would include the DVR usage and re-airs.

When taking into consideration the total numbers, TUF attracted “14,844 million viewers this year through 163 airings on two sports channels plus DVR users,” according to the SBJ report.  In comparison TUF 17 pulled in 13.8 million viewers through 24 airings on FX and DVR users.  Same day viewership is off 22 percent but live plus 7 day viewership is down only 10 percent and it increased its male 18-49 and male 25-54 demos according to the senior vice president of programming and research of Fox Sports.


Payout Perspective:

Spin or correct reassessment of programming by Fox?  As most know, the TUF series has taken a downturn in ratings since the UFC left SpikeTV.   But the article suggests that the TUF franchise is not going anywhere and with the launch of two new all-sports networks, it is willing to be patient with the show as well as look at the overall picture of how it is contributing to the ratings.

Certainly, a 7pm start time on the west coast with no same night replays on FS1 does not really help the overnight ratings.  The west coast is known for having higher viewership for MMA programs.  While there’s nothing definitive that would suggest that TUF has higher ratings on the west coast, the fact that there are a lot of MMA fans out west would make Fox look to all of the airings of TUF and not just the live version.  In the future, perhaps programming might also look to same night reruns as well as this might boost viewership for FS1

11 Responses to “Fox looks at TUF ratings differently”

  1. DocOc on December 8th, 2013 11:14 PM


  2. Tops of on December 9th, 2013 12:49 AM


  3. BrainSmasher on December 9th, 2013 1:17 AM

    Hard to say if it is spin or not. It is understandable not to go off just the live airing. But at the same time how can you compare 163 airings of the show to 24? That part is a spin.

    The truth is this season didn’t do as bad as we all thought. But it didn’t do as well as expected going in. I do believe its success was comparable to last season. It is what it is. I do believe it would have done much better grabbing viewers of Dramas and movies on FX if it wasn’t moved to FS1. FX has a minimum viewer base that is always on that channel that FS1 doesn’t have. It also have lots of Female viewers that FS1 will likely never have. This season of TUF was designed to reach outside the typical UFC demographic. But the switch to FS1 made that impossible. SO TUF 18 was left hoping to inspire old TUF fans with the female concept and hope those people out number those who checked out this season due to the same tired TUF concept. But they didn’t reach any new fans and this season could have done that. I guess UFC and Fox did what they had to do. But it is a shame they missed the boat here. I would have liked if Fox tested out a replay of at least one episode of TUF on FX or FOX. Even if it was at a shitty time slot. Just to see what happened.

  4. LeonThePro on December 9th, 2013 5:46 AM

    – TUF 17 pulled in 13.8 million viewers through 24 airings on FX
    – TUF 18 attracted 14.844 million viewers this year through 163 airings on two sports channels plus DVR users. (Over 6 x the amount of airings)

    “Fox sports execs are viewing the ratings differently as it is not assessing the overnight ratings…. the tact is to view the ratings in total which would include the DVR usage and re-airs.”

    Seems like a spin to me. “Overall consumption is up 8 %” would be good if the airings were even.

  5. Diego on December 9th, 2013 7:50 AM

    How much ad revenue did this season generate vs. last season? That’s how you can tell how the show is doing.

  6. Random Dude on December 9th, 2013 10:46 AM

    I am curious how the ad revenue is doing for FOX. It seems like a significant portion of ads for the fight nights are UFC/FOX ads for UFC events as opposed to ads for products or services by other businesses. These past two fight nights it seemed, most commercial breaks had more ads for UFC/FOX than for other products.

    It wasn’t that way on Spike and I don’t remember it being that way of FX either.

  7. BrainSmasher on December 9th, 2013 12:52 PM

    I don’t think you can go by Ad revenue. That is sold before the season starts. So it would basically be based on last years ratings. Even then with the 160+ airings, even with lower paying Ads on FS2. This year would likely have beat anything those 24 airings did. I also believe the 160 airings are misleading. Many of those airings, which well over 100 of them were on FS2, got less than 30,000 viewers. So TUF didn’t really need all 160 airings to look comparable to TUF 17.

    I trust them that TUF had much more interest than the live ratings suggest and people thought. But that doesn’t mean it had the same or more interest as past seasons. Put TUF 17 on 140 more airings. Even if they only averaged 10,000 viewers on FS2. It would add 1.4 million viewers.

    So I believe…This was an interesting season. Its interest was much more than we thought it was. But this season of TUF still had lost a little interest and continued the decline in interest that we have seen in TUF for many seasons now. Moving from Spike to FX to FS1 is the reason for that decline this season. This season on Spike or FX would have been a very good success. averaging 1.5 million imo.

  8. Jason Cruz on December 9th, 2013 1:14 PM

    I agree with Diego that this is a way to approach ads and repackage TUF ratings.

    For those wondering our post in early November that Fox were giving “make goods” to advertisers that were purchasing inventory on FS1

  9. JoseK on December 9th, 2013 3:22 PM

    Counting re-airs is pure spin. FS1 only re-airs TUF episodes because it has such a limited amount of content.

  10. Jose Mendoza on December 9th, 2013 8:18 PM


    If FS1 was a channel that was higher rated, for example FX, there is no way they would show that many repeats. It’s the reason why TUF isn’t being aired on FX nor on FOX.

  11. BrainSmasher on December 9th, 2013 9:10 PM

    Wasn’t most of those re-air’s on FS2? I don’t remember seeing many reruns on FS1. Maybe a couple times a week at most.

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