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Tag: Spike TV UFC ratings

Are Events Like UFC Fight Night 32 Why the UFC’s Popularity is Suffering?

(It’s almost 2014. Dan Henderson and Vitor Belfort are still main-eventing UFC cards. / photo via Getty)

By Matt Saccaro

Cards like UFC Fight Night 32 are contributing to the death of MMA’s popularity in the US.

In case you haven’t noticed, the UFC’s numbers have been atrocious lately. UFC 165, a card headlined by the light heavyweight champion of the world and future of the company Jon Jones, drew a paltry 325,000 buys. Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos III—the finale to the greatest trilogy in UFC heavyweight history—drew a slightly higher number at UFC 166.

The UFC has had woes on free television too. TUF is regularly breaking the wrong kinds of records. And the ratings on FOX Sports 1 have been inconsistent at best. They started strong with a tremendous 1.7 million (back to 2011 Spike TV levels) for UFC Fight Night 26, dropped 54% to 824,000 viewers for UFN 27, fell a further 35% to 539,000 for UFN 28, rose to 638,000 for 29, and stayed at that level for the next fight night card on FOX Sports 1, UFC Fight Night 31 (a.k.a. UFC Fight for the Troops 3).


TUF 10 Premiere Most Watched Episode in Series History

Ultimate Fighter 10 cast
(You’re entering a world of pain, Jay Leno.)

When we opened our inbox to find an email from Spike TV about last night’s "Ultimate Fighter" 10 season premiere, we expected the usual ratings chest-thumping where they point out how well it did in the 18-34 year-old male demographic that the UFC basically owns, while leaving out how it got smoked by some terrible network TV offering that plays to the very old, the very stupid, and the too-lazy-to-change-the-channel demographic.  But instead what we saw were numbers actually worth bragging about.  According to Spike TV, last night’s TUF 10 premiere "was not only the most watched episode in the series history, but also in network history for an original."

Of course, the other network original that it beat out was the season finale of something called "The Joe Schmo Show" in 2003, which somehow garnered 3.4 million viewers.  It sounds less impressive that way, but the point is that the TUF 10 premiere got 4.1 million viewers, which crushed the previous TUF high of 2.8 million set by the season three finale.  And yes, in the 18-34 male demo it also beat out a bunch of network shows like "America’s Got Talent," "So You Think You Can Dance," "The Jay Leno Show," and something called "Glee," which we at first thought was a typo but turns out is an actual show.  God help us.

So does this mean that the drawing power of Kimbo Slice is now beyond question?  Or could it be that the silent, but fiercely loyal fans of Darrill "Titties" Schoonover helped push the TUF ratings to new heights?  It would be irresponsible of us to speculate (just kidding, it was "Titties"), but odds are the Spike TV execs are just glad that something finally pushed "The Joe Schmo Show" out of the top spot after so many years.  Now when advertisers ask them what their greatest ratings success was they don’t have to mumble the answer into the backs of their hands before quickly changing the subject by asking, ‘Who else could go for some chicken strips right about now?’