White confirms TUF to continue in new ESPN deal

August 8, 2018

Dana White has confirmed that The Ultimate Fighter will continue as part of the ESPN deal despite record-low ratings the past several seasons on FS1.

After the season finale of Dana White’s Contender Series on Tuesday night, White told reporters of the future of the series. “There’s still a huge market for ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ still does well.”

The last season of TUF on FS1 will feature Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum as coaches this fall. It will then move to ESPN as part of the new deal announced earlier this year.

White indicated that TUF would move to ESPN or ESPN+ and stated that its likely to air once a year as opposed to the two seasons per year.

Payout Perspective:

It was ironic that White spoke about the future of TUF at the end of his Contender Series which is essentially what TUF was made to be. Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series has been a success this summer with some good prospects, great fights and the reality show element of White choosing fighter(s) for contracts in the UFC. TUF has shown its age throughout the past several years as it went from a something pitched as live content to a show that picks up viewers via DVR. But, with the new deal with ESPN, it is likely looking for content for its ESPN + platform so I would imagine it would be something the network would be interested on seeing if it has traction.

Bellator 201 draws 466,000 viewers

July 2, 2018

Bellator 201 drew 466,000 viewers on Friday night on The Paramount Network according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The ratings were an increase over Bellator 200.

The main event featured two women as Ilima-Lei Macfarlane defended her flyweight title against Alejandra Lara.  Macfarlane got Lara to tap to an armbar in the third round.

In all likelihood Macfarlane’s next defense will have her go up against UFC vet Valerie Letourneau who won on the under-card on Friday night.

Payout Perspective:

The event had more viewers than Bellator 200 although that event was on tape delay.  The 466,000 has to be seen as good considering there was not many known fighters on the card.  It did benefit from the lack of other combat sports on Friday night.

TUF 27 Episode 11 draws 156,000 viewers on FS1

June 28, 2018

The penultimate episode of The Ultimate Fighter 27 drew 156,000 viewers on Friday on Wednesday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The 11th episode featured the coaches challenge which featured Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic in a hockey shootout.  The fight of the episode saw Team Cormier’s Joe Giannetti submit Team Miocic’s Allan Zuniga.  Giannetti advances to the final July 6th at the TUF Finale.

Ep        Live                 Live+3

1          201,000           298,000

2          186,000           296,000

3          246,000           366,000

4          207,000           357,000

5          176,000           362,000

6          196,000           398,000

7          275,000           437,000

8          248,000           443,000

9          290,000           462,000

10        219,000           402,000

11         156,000

Payout Perspective:

The 11th episode fell off from the past several episodes which hovered around the mid-200s.  The 156,000 is the lowest this season and shows that the season is starting to wear down.  Fortunately, the final episode is next week.

TUF 27 Episode 10 draws 218,000 viewers

June 21, 2018

The Ultimate Fighter 27 episode 10 drew 218,000 viewers per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  Despite being down in the live + SD ratings this week, the DVR viewership is on the rise.

This week’s show featured the fight for a slot in the featherweight tournament finals on July 6th at the TUF Finale.  Brian Katona faced Bryce Mitchell in a battle of Team Cormier teammates.  Katona ended up winning via submission in the third and final round.

 

Live and DVR + 3 Ratings Increases

1          201,000           298,000           +48%

2          186,000           296,000           +59%

3          246,000           366,000           +48%

4          207,000           357,000           +72%

5          176,000           362,000           +106%

6          196,000           398,000           +103%

7          275,000           437,000           +58%

8          248,000           443,000           +79%

9          290,000           462,000           +59%

Payout Perspective:

While the live + SD ratings may not be trending in a verified direction, the viewership via DVR is going up as the season is ending.  The last 5 episodes have seen a steady increase in viewership via recording the episode for later consumption.

Bellator 200 peaked with 804,000 viewers

June 1, 2018

Bellator 200 peaked with 804,000 viewers on The Paramount Network according to Nielsen.  The event drew 500,000 viewers in DVR +3 ratings.

Bellator 200 was tape delayed this past Friday on The Paramount Network.  The event was headlined by Gegard Mousasi as he captured the middleweight title from Raphael Carvalho.

The additional viewership reflects a 16% increase from the Live + SD rating of 421,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

I am a bit surprised that the DVR numbers did not increase the overall viewership more.  This could be a condition of the tape delay and the knowledge of the results prior to the event airing on Paramount.  For an event that was to be a milestone for the company, viewers treated like an ordinary Bellator event.

TUF 27 episode 6 draws 196,000 viewers.

May 24, 2018

The Ultimate Fighter season 27 episode 6 drew 196,000 viewers on FS1 Wednesday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  It is the third episode this season under 200,000 viewers.

In the fight of the episode, Team Cormier’s Ricky Steele defeated Team Miocic’s Suman Mokhtarian via unanimous decision.

Payout Perspective:

TUF 25’s episode 6 last spring drew 372,000 viewers and TUF 26’s episode 6 drew 242,000 viewers.  The telecast went up against the NBA Playoffs on TNT and Game 7 of the NHL Hockey Playoffs on NBC Sports Network.  Still, its hard not to see that live viewership is waning as most are recording and watching for later.

TUF 27 Episode 5 draws 176,000 viewers

May 17, 2018

The Ultimate Fighter 27 Episode 5 drew 176,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The telecast saw Team Stipe Miocic get its first win of the season as Mike Trizano defeated Team Cormier’s Thai Clark.

The event drew 0.06 in the A18-49 demo.

TUF 27 Episodes

Ep                         Live + SD          DVR+3               Change

1                           201,000              298,000              +48%

2                           186,000              296,000              +59%

3                           246,000              366,000              +48% 

4                           207,000              357,000              +72%

5                           176,000

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that the viewership is being gained via DVR watching.  Episode 5 was the lowest of this season and its likely due in part to the shift in viewership habits to recording the episode and watching later.  Last year’s Episode 5 of TUF 25 drew 301,000 viewers and TUF 26’s Episode 5 drew 220,000 viewers.

TUF 27 Episode 4 draws 207,000 viewers

May 10, 2018

The Ultimate Fighter 27 Episode 4 on FS1 drew 207,000 viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The event drew 0.10 in the A18-49 demo.

The fight of the show featured Bryce Mitchell as he took on Jay Cucciniello.  Mitchell defeated Cucciniello by unanimous decision.  Also on the show, the cameras followed Luis Pena as he faced a potential issue with ending his stint on the show.  It was revealed that Pena would have to pull out of his chance to be The Ultimate Fighter due to a fractured foot.

Payout Perspective:

The telecast did slightly better than the season debut which does not say much in terms of ratings.  Last year, TUF 25 drew 348,000 viewers for its fourth episode.  TUF 26 drew 261,000 viewers for episode 4.  Thus far, live viewership is taking a hit this season.  If there is some excuse, Game 5 of the Philadelphia-Boston series occurred at the same time on TNT and drew nearly 6 million viewers.

TUF 27 Episode 1 draws 200,000 viewers

April 19, 2018

The debut of The Ultimate Fighter 27 featuring coaches Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic on FS1 drew 200,000 viewers Wednesday.  The telecast is the lowest debut yet for the TUF franchise.

Last spring’s TUF 25 drew 288,000 viewers with coaches T.J. Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt.  This fall’s TUF 26 drew 308,000 with coaches Justin Gaethje and Eddie Alvarez.

Payout Perspective:

The episode went up against the NBA Playoff game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Houston Rockets on TNT which was the highest telecast on cable Wednesday night drawing over 3.4 million viewers.  Even with the competition, it’s clear that the TUF franchise is one where you have to look to the DVR numbers to see how many people are really tuning in.  The declining live numbers reflect the shift in how viewers watch this franchise.

Bellator 195 peaked at 745,00 viewers

March 8, 2018

Bellator 195 peaked with 745,000 viewers on Friday night on the Paramount Network.

The event featured Darrion Caldwell’s defense of his featherweight title as he submitted Leonard Higo in the very first round.

The ratings are on par with the past three Bellator telecasts, none of which surpassed 500,000 viewers.  The peak viewership is on par with the last 3 as well.

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