(Three seasons later, the ‘Innerme‘ still looms large…)
With a big-name crossover star like Brock Lesnar as one of the coaches for this season of The Ultimate Fighter, we wondered if TUF 13‘s viewership ratings would land anywhere near TUF 10‘s — the heavyweight season featuring Quinton Jackson and Rashad Evans as coaches and Kimbo Slice as one of the heavyweight hopefuls. According to the numbers released by Spike, TUF 13‘s premiere ratings couldn’t hold a candle to Kimbo.
Wednesday’s show attracted an average of 1.5 million viewers and a 1.0 household rating, and earned the highest viewership numbers for men 18-34 and 18-49 in its new 9 p.m. time slot, with ratings of 1.93 and 1.51, respectively. Still, that’s a far cry from the 4.1 million average viewers that TUF 10 earned in its premiere. It’s also a slight decline from last season’s Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck premiere, which attracted 1.6 million viewers — which was itself a decline from the 1.9 million viewers brought in by the TUF 11: Liddell vs. Ortiz premiere. In fact, the TUF 13 premiere was the least successful debut episode in series history, in terms of household rating.
Responding to the news, UFC president Dana White was in full-on hater-hurtin’ mode, posting the following on the UG: “SINCE WHEN IS 1.5 MILLIONS VIEWERS BAD? People have been saying it is dead since season 4. Sit back and watch bitches or don’t. TUF isnt going anywhere!!!! deal with it.“ Fair enough. But the downward trend can’t be ignored. So what went wrong?
Junior Dos Santos: In the cage, he’s one of the most exciting people in the world. In front of a camera, he’s just another humble Brazilian who hasn’t learned how to talk smack in English yet. Although he’s beloved by hardcore UFC fans, his name means very little to outsiders who are just looking to kill some time until Coal comes on at 10 p.m.
The new time-slot: Speaking of which, I guess there are still some people who don’t have this show permanently programmed into their DVRs. Even if it’s just a difference of one hour on the same night, any shift in time-slot could have an impact.
Brock Lesnar: After his crushing loss to Cain Velasquez, have viewers already written Brock off? When Kimbo Slice appeared on TUF, viewers were curious to see how he’d do in the Octagon, even though he’d already competed four times for EliteXC. Brock doesn’t have the same novelty factor anymore, and fairweather fans may have already jumped ship.
No heat between the coaches: Junior is a nice guy, and Brock has temporarily retired his heel persona. There was no personal rivalry between the two going into the show, and no bad blood developed on the set. In other words, we’ll have to rely on the fights to keep us entertained this season. Never a good sign.
General fatigue: Master salesman Dana White is telling you to “sit back and watch, bitches” and “deal with it.” But how many times can you watch the same story unfold in the exact same way without losing interest? The debut of featherweights and bantamweights next season might add an additional hook — and if Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping are the coaches, you bet your ass we’ll be tuning in. But for right now, it’s just the same old product, and if you’re not already a Brock Lesnar superfan, there’s little reason to get excited.