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‘TUF 16′ Viewership Plummets Even Further, Hits New Low-Water Mark of 624,000 Viewers

(I know I’ve seen you on TV somewhere. Hillbilly Handfishin’? Duck Dynasty? Can you give me a hint?)

By George Shunick

Yes, I know we just called for a hiatus on these “TUF ratings are in the shitter” posts. And I know O Chan just finished explaining why, from a network perspective, selling ads on original programming like TUF is better than giving them away during a broadcast of Big Momma’s House 2, even if the raw numbers are declining. But still, guys. You need to hear this.

A week after season 16 of TUF scored its highest amount of viewers with 1,100,000 — thanks to a strong lead-in from the UFC on FX 5 broadcast — the show reached rock bottom and saw that number shrink to just 624,000 for episode 5. In other words, only 56.7% of last week’s viewers stuck around for the next episode. It’s the worst viewership tally in the show’s history, falling alarmingly short of the previous low-ratings record of 775,000 viewers. It’s gotten so ugly that BG’s prediction of 660,000 viewers representing the nadir of the season has already been shattered two weeks after he made it. Time to readjust our already-low expectations.

At the risk of harping on the same points over and over again, part of the problem is the coaches. On one hand, you have a portly, middling heavyweight who, despite possessing great grappling and heavy hands, has yet to truly impress in the UFC and is best recognized for his unorthodox physique and mangy facial hair. On the other, you have an aging slugger who has really heavy hands — and worse everything else — coming off a year-long layoff from back surgery, and is notoriously media-averse. Point being, you’re not exactly getting charisma here. The only “drama” this show can muster is how much Nelson annoys Carwin and White. It’s not must-see TV by any stretch of the imagination.

But more than anything, it’s the lack of talent on the show. Brazil’s TUF is much more interesting because it has the potential to do what the first few seasons of TUF were able to do: unearth prospects. Brazil’s MMA scene is so disorganized and disassociated from the American scene that it’s entirely plausible that certain prospects have slipped through the cracks, suffered losses fighting at heavier weights, or simply haven’t possessed the requisite amount of free time to hone their skills. TUF offers fighters like that a shot that they may not get anywhere else. In America, though, the MMA scene is now developed enough that fighters who show promise and achieve early success are recognized relatively quickly, and are picked up by larger organizations — including the UFC — before they’d consider entering onto a tedious reality TV show.

Combine this with viewer fatigue for the stale format and the Friday Death Slot, and you have the ratings disaster that season 16 is. Over a million people tuned in a week ago, largely on the coattails of UFC on FX 5, and over 400,000 of those viewers said to themselves, “I’ve made a huge mistake.” (To be fair, they’re not alone.) You can’t spin that into something positive, no matter how hard you try. The only intrigue left for this season is if Carwin will actually agree to VADA drug testing leading up to the bout. (Considering his manager just accused arguably the most effective drug testing organization available to fighters of bullying Carwin, and insinuated that Nelson’s hair is an equally serious violation of the rules as doping, I suspect his answer will be “no.”)

If you need any more convincing, here’s a sad little statistic: TUF 16 episode 5 got beat in the ratings by a TBS overnight movie that aired at 4AM. Look, we all know how hard it is to say goodbye to things we once loved. But the UFC, for whatever reason, simply doesn’t want to come to grips with the fact that their cable TV labor-of-love needs to go. It’s time to say goodbye, for TUF’s own sake, if nothing else.

For further reading: Detailed Breakdown of Ultimate Fighter Ratings Shows Disturbing Trends

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Mr_Misanthropy- October 16, 2012 at 3:44 pm
It's just like you said in the article and other people are saying. The fights suck and the show is pointlessly boring this season. They don't show you any training. They don't show the coaches who have at least some name recognition. They just show you a bunch of anonymous dudes acting like dicks to each other and then whining about it and then they spend a half hour showing you a pointless two round fight that makes my old King of the Cage DVDs look like Pride Shockwave Dynamite. Cap that off with some dude you will never see again crying about blowing his only chance in life to not work at Taco Bell because he wandered aimlessly around the cage for ten minutes jacking off.

Why do we need two TUFs anyway? Why not just broadcast the different foriegn seasons in the US? People like to see variety and it would be a way to keep the show fresh. I like watching Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern go to exotic locations to eat goat entrails why not give us a little experience of what's going on in these other countries. They have had literally 16 seasons of the exact same shit without trying to be creative or invest any energy into their product. Of course its getting lame.
dipsetkilla316- October 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm
That prob why they mad jones and sonnen the next coches Like im watching it and wen the fights r on u cant here carwin and the fights suck and honstly there biggest thing was like roy vs dana and its not een fun to watch ever one i no the watch the UF says this ones the worst of all time i mean arial was like i like to see the not so famous guys doing the ultimate fighter but i mean when the ratings r this bad i mean wat can u do u have to put a well famous champ or lagend or something i think the jones and sonnen will be the highest rating of all time
Fried Taco- October 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm
I haven't watched it yet, don't spoil it for me.
echoxer0- October 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm
Jon Jones is gonna be on TUF opposite of Chael Sonnen next season.

Start reporting news CP u suck! I dont even know why i still come here... /r/mma is where its at now
echoxer0- October 16, 2012 at 12:36 pm
echoxer0- October 16, 2012 at 12:36 pm

ur welcome
ldykilla82- October 16, 2012 at 12:11 pm
We all know it's the night. Be honest on a Friday are you staying in to catch up on your "stories", or are you out asking anything with a skirt if they are DTF. FX, c'mon son.
Casa de los pantelones- October 16, 2012 at 11:37 am
I think if they went back to the roots, like in season 1...have some team competitions, fun things, that get everyone motivated. Girls are into watching the real housewives of... All those whiny bitches do is argue. Guys don't want to watch that crap. Every now and again, if it's funny, it can be entertaining...but get the show back to how it used to be to draw more viewers in.