The Ultimate Fighter‘s switch to a live-fight format for their debut on FX was a promising change-of-pace for a show that desperately needed to break out of its rut. But considering the season’s declining ratings — with several of episodes breaking new records for low viewership — the gimmick clearly didn’t drive as much interest as the UFC hoped it would.
With the 16th season of TUF already slated to premiere in September, UFC president Dana White confirmed to Yahoo! yesterday that the series will return to its original pre-taped format. Though White says he loved the live format, it hindered the show’s ability to delve into the fighters’ lives, create storylines, and preview upcoming episodes. As for the Friday night time-slot, which was generally thought to be a limiting factor for the show’s ratings, we’re stuck with it for now:
“FX wants to try it again on Friday nights,” White said. “But if it’s not up to the standards I’m expecting, I’m pretty sure they’ll give me what I want. But this season was a smash hit home run for them.”
According to FX spokesman Dominic Pagone, TUF was the second-most watched series on basic cable on Friday nights among men 18-34 and 18-49, which is the UFC’s key demographic, trailing only ESPN, which generally broadcast an NBA game in that slot. Adding women, TUF was the third-most watched network on basic cable among adults 18-34 and 18-49.
Pagone said among adults aged 18-49, FX’s ratings with “The Ultimate Fighter” improved 69 percent year over year. It went up 141 percent among men 18-49 year-over-year, Pagone added…
Chuck Saftler, the executive vice president of FX…said TUF’s ratings were on par with WWE “Smackdown” on Syfy, “which has been an institution on Friday nights.” Saftler said that “was a good thing.”
Sure, but if the show returns to Wednesday nights, it might match its old Spike TV-era ratings, and that would be a great thing for them. Casting for TUF 16 will begin in three weeks, and will feature welterweight fighters. Head coaches haven’t been named yet, though the proposed Griffin vs. Bonnar matchup has already been nixed by DW.