If you’ve been following The Ultimate Fighter this season, chances are that, like us, you’ve been more than impressed with the quality of the fights themselves. Four great fights with four decisive (not to mention brutal) finishes have easily outshined most if not all of the petty drama that oft permeates the TUF house, a trend that has only increased since the program’s move to the FX and FOX Sports 1 networks.
Unfortunately, great fights have not necessarily equaled great ratings this season. Blame it on the new network, blame it on the time slot, but TUF 18‘s ratings have been just barely swimming above the “lowest live-viewership” record since the premiere episode. Yes, despite seeing a temporary boost with the second episode, MMAFighting’s Dave Meltzer is reporting that last week’s fight between Davey Grant and LivesWithParents pulled in just 640,000 viewers.
In fact, episode 3, featuring the fight between Chris Holdsworth and Chris Beal, similarly drew in just 639,000 viewers. Here’s the thing, episodes 2 and 4 – which featured the female fights of Baszler/Pena and Rakoczy/Modafferi — performed significantly better than those featuring their male counterparts. As Meltzer writes:
For the Ultimate Fighter, there has been an up-and-down pattern in the ratings. As in, the week of a women’s fight, the audience is up. The two women’s fights, airing on Sept. 12 and Sept. 26, did 870,000 and 778,000 viewers live. The men’s fights on Sept. 19 and Oct. 3 did 639,000 and 640,000.
Additionally, the DVR numbers for TUF 18 have been incredibly strong:
Viewership has increased anywhere from 32 percent to 37 percent from the initial reports when you factor in people who watched the show via DVR between Thursday and Saturday. For example, the Sept. 26 show, the most recent to have DVR numbers for, did an additional 272,000 viewers of the initial airing, pushing total viewership to 1.05 million.
The Ultimate Fighter has always been a strong DVR property as compared to most sports programming, but the increases have historically only been in the 15 percent range.
So it’s not exactly great news, but it does offer a sliver of hope for TUF‘s chances on FS1.
Personally, I’d love to help the show out by tuning in Wednesday nights. I really would. But if the UFC expects me to miss out on Always Sunny so I can listen to Momma Rousey hand down life lessons, they are sorely mistaken. Because I need characters whose problems I can identify with, and seeing an illiterate janitor, a sociopath, a tranny-lover with delusions of grandeur and a bird woman drunkenly argue about things they have no understanding of is like going to a family reunion every week for me.