(‘To the death, Georges. To the death. Right after I get back from vacation.’)
As if you couldn’t tell from the high production values in last night’s debut episode of “UFC Primetime” on Spike TV, that thing didn’t come cheap. The pricetag for the entire series is $1.7 million, which is a lot when you consider that your run-of-the-mill “Countdown” show only costs about $200,000. But judging by the ratings numbers from last night’s premiere episode, it may prove to be worth it.
MMA Payout reports that the show drew nearly 1.5 million viewers (1,494,000 to be exact), according to ratings estimates. In case you’re curious how that compares to the “Countdown” ratings, the best that show ever managed to draw in its first airing was 782,000 viewers. That means “UFC Primetime” drew nearly twice as well as the best “Countdown” ever, and it has the added benefit of being a recurring series, so we can see how many of those people come back for more next week.
But here’s the real question: will the high ratings translate into big pay-per-view buys? Probably. “Countdown” ratings have proven to be a fairly decent barometer for how a given PPV event will sell, and these kinds of numbers should give the UFC reason to be very optimistic about the potential for UFC 94. Then again, Georges St. Pierre-B.J. Penn II was bound to be a huge event anyway, so it will be difficult to say how much “Primetime” helped.
Either way, as long as the UFC is putting out something this good, and as long as they keep employing our boy Ariel Helwani (who is hopefully seeing a big chunk of that $1.7 million, because we need to borrow some cash to cover our gambling losses after UFC 92), we aren’t complaining. Let’s just hope this success means more “Primetimes” in the future.