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Saturday, October 29, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ratings for The Ultimate Fighter Revert Back to Normal Level, as Free-Fall Appears to Come to an End
Episode Ten of The Ultimate Fighter 2 drew an overall rating of 1.4 this past Monday night, likely causing officials at Spike TV and Zuffa to breathe a huge sigh of relief.

The ratings for TUF had been in a free-fall ever since the show lost WWE Raw as a lead-in, with all-time low ratings of 1.3, 1.2, and 1.1 over the past three weeks. This week's 1.4 rating brings back a sense of normalcy and diminishes the fears about exactly how low TUF's ratings would fall before they finally bottomed out. It now appears that last week's 1.1 overall rating will be seen as "rock bottom" for the series, which had been in danger of falling below 1.0 with the way things were trending for a few weeks.

At the same time, this week's 1.4 overall rating is not exactly cause for huge celebration within Spike TV and Zuffa if they look at the numbers closely. If it weren't for the past three weeks of free-falling ratings, this week's 1.4 rating would have been tied for the lowest-rated episode in the history of the series.

Also, the second season of The Ultimate Fighter had been averaging a 1.6 overall rating through its first six weeks (with WWE Raw as a lead-in), so this week's 1.4 overall rating is still not quite at the level of what the show was drawing before WWE moved back to USA Network. Episode Ten of TUF's first season drew a 1.7 overall rating.

TUF Draws Huge Rating in Key Demographic
While the overall rating only warrants a sigh of relief from Spike TV and Zuffa officials, this week's rating in the most important viewer demographic is indeed cause for celebration within Spike and Zuffa. This week's episode of TUF drew a whopping 3.0 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, which senior Spike officials actually care about even more than the overall ratings.

Even more encouraging for the show's producers is the fact that the show's audience the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic actually increased as the show went on, which is generally unusual for a show that airs from 11:00 PM to 12:00 AM. The quarter-hour ratings for this demographic were 2.8, 3.0, 3.1, and 3.3.

This week's 3.0 rating in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic is the highest rating that The Ultimate Fighter has ever drawn in this demographic on Monday nights. The previous all-time record for a Monday night airing was 2.8, a mark that was set in Week Two of the second season.

The 3.0 rating in the key demographic also compares very favorably to the first season of TUF, which averaged a 2.2 rating in that demographic over the course of the first season. The highest-rated episode of the first season in this demographic was ironically also Episode Ten, which drew a 2.7 rating in the key demographic.

Network TV Competition
The Monday Night Football game on ABC between the New York Jets and the Atlanta Falcons, which went head-to-head with The Ultimate Fighter, drew a 9.3 overall rating, which is down from Monday Night Football's season-to-date average of 10.0.

Additionally, because there was no Major League Baseball playoff game being played on Monday night, The Ultimate Fighter faced significantly weaker sports competition than it had faced the previous two weeks. Two weeks ago, the combined rating for football and baseball on Monday night was 17.5. Last week, it was 15.7. This week, that number was just 9.3 because there was no baseball game, which means that there were a lot more sports fans who were potential TUF viewers.

Also airing head-to-head with TUF were NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno (which drew a 4.6 overall rating), and CBS' Late Show with David Letterman (which drew a 4.1 overall rating).

Compared to the 18 shows that aired on primetime network television (from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM) on Monday night, The Ultimate Fighter at 11:00 PM actually beat 15 of them in one particular demographic. In the 18-to-24-year-old male demographic, the only network TV shows to out-draw TUF on this night were ABC's Monday Night Football, Fox's Prison Break, and CBS' Two and a Half Men.

The Ultimate Fighter even out-drew the mighty CSI Miami in this specific demographic. However, it's worth pointing out that 18-to-24-year-old males are not the biggest target audience for the CSI shows; and Monday night's airing of CSI Miami still crushed The Ultimate Fighter (and every other show on television that night) with its 12.5 overall rating.

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