Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks
Monday, October 30, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ultimate Fighter Ratings up from Previous Week, Down from TUF 1-3
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
Episode Ten of The Ultimate Fighter 4 drew a slightly improved overall rating of 1.2 on Thursday, October 19th. One week earlier, Episode Nine of TUF 4 had drawn an overall rating of 1.0, which was the lowest rating ever for a new episode of TUF airing on its normal night.
Serra vs. Carter Fight Comes Through in the Ratings
The difference between Episode Ten and the previous two episodes from a ratings standpoint is that while all three episodes started out with quarter-hour ratings in the low 1's, the quarter-hour ratings for the previous two episodes stayed in that range throughout the shows.
On the other hand, the heavily hyped Matt Serra vs. Shonie Carter match-up did wonders for the viewership of Episode Ten, which increased to a 1.4 in quarter-hour viewership when the Serra-Carter fight started. The rating of 1.4 for the fight itself is tied with Matt Serra's previous fight (a victory over Pete Spratt) as the highest-rated fight since Episode Three.
Also, for the first time in three weeks, the quarter-hour rating did not decrease when UFC Unleashed ended and The Ultimate Fighter began. In the previous two weeks, a few hundred thousand viewers who had been watching UFC Unleashed actually tuned out at 10:00 PM when TUF started, which is the opposite of what one would expect. A semblance of normalcy was restored on October 19th, as the final quarter-hour of UFC Unleashed drew a 0.9 rating and the first quarter-hour of TUF drew a 1.1 rating.
Ratings Increase Despite Going Against Game 7 of the NLCS
Earlier this season, we demonstrated statistically that the NFL has had a minimal impact on the ratings of The Ultimate Fighter over the course of TUF's history, and this was also the case earlier this season when one episode of TUF went head-to-head with a regular season NFL game.
It appears that Major League Baseball also has a minimal effect on TUF's ratings, as Episode Ten of TUF 4 drew an increased rating despite the fact that it was going up against Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.
One week earlier, Episode Nine of TUF 4 had drawn an overall rating of just 1.0 while airing head-to-head with an MLB playoff game that drew an overall rating of 5.5. On October 19th, the MLB broadcast on Fox drew a drastically increased overall rating of 9.3, but this did not cause TUF's ratings to decrease.
In fact, just the opposite occurred, as TUF's overall rating went up from 1.0 to 1.2. As with Episode Ten, the ratings for Episode Eleven are going to increase or decrease based primarily on viewer interest in TUF, not because of baseball's ratings.
Speaking of Major League Baseball, the October 10th broadcast of "UFC: The Final Chapter" on Spike TV actually outdrew Game 1 of the World Series in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-34-year-old male demographic.
While the average viewership of the World Series game on October 14th was drastically higher than UFC: The Final Chapter when it comes to overall viewers (11.7 million to 4.2 million), The Final Chapter drew 1.6 million viewers in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, while Game 1 of the World Series drew 1.2 million viewers in the same demographic.
Episode Ten Comparisons
While it was an improvement over the previous week's series-low rating, the overall rating of 1.2 for Episode Ten of TUF 4 does not compare favorably with Episode Ten from the previous three seasons. Episode Ten of the first season featured Kenny Florian's victory over Chris Leben and drew a 1.7 overall rating. Episode Ten of the second season featured Luke Cummo's victory over Sam Morgan and drew a 1.4 overall rating. Episode Ten of the third season featured Kendall Grove's victory over Kalib Starnes and drew a 1.5 overall rating.
The drop-off is far more drastic when comparing the series' ratings in the advertiser-coveted demographic of 18-to-34-year-old males. In that demographic, Episode Ten of TUF 4 drew a 1.7 rating. In the same demographic, Episode Ten of the first season drew a 2.7 rating; Episode Ten of the second season drew a 3.0 rating; and Episode Ten of the third season drew a 2.3 rating.
Network Competition on October 19th
Airing head-to-head with The Ultimate Fighter on Thursday, October 19th, Game 1 of the World Series drew a 7.3 overall rating, which was down from the 8.6 overall rating that was drawn by Game 1 of last year's World Series. Also up against TUF was the CBS drama Shark, which continues to inch closer towards surpassing NBC's ER in the ratings. Both Shark and ER drew overall ratings of 9.0 on this night, while ABC's Six Degrees decreased further to a 6.0 overall rating.
Airing head-to-head with UFC Unleashed in the 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM hour, Grey's Anatomy on ABC actually expanded its lead over CSI on CBS, as Grey's Anatomy drew a 14.4 overall rating and CSI drew a 12.5 overall rating. A new episode of Deal or No Deal lagged behind on NBC with a 6.1 overall rating, but Deal or No Deal will remain safe as long as it continues to perform on its primary night each Monday (where it drew a 10.5 overall rating on October 16th).
Bookending Episode Ten of The Ultimate Fighter 4 on Spike TV were a repeat of UFC Unleashed and a new episode of the pro wrestling show TNA Impact. UFC Unleashed drew an overall rating of 0.9 for the second consecutive week, while TNA Impact drew an overall rating of 0.8.
Starting on November 16th (not coincidentally, the week after the end of TUF's season), TNA Impact will be moving to primetime and taking over the Thursday at 9:00 PM timeslot that has been occupied by UFC Unleashed since April, while Unleashed will air on Spike TV at 10:00 PM and 11:00 PM on Thursday nights.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Pride USA Fighter Salaries
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
MMAWeekly has obtained the fighter salary information for Pride: The Real Deal, which took place on Saturday, October 21st at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The following figures are from the fighter salary information that Dream Stage Entertainment was required by law to submit to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Although MMA fighters are not unionized, the fighters' salaries are still public record in the United States, just as with every other major sport in the US.
While the question, "How much do Pride's fighters make when they fight in Japan?" still remains unanswered, the fighter salaries for the USA event provide a great deal of insight into this question.
Given that Pride's Japan-based shows regularly fill the 35,000-seat Saitama Super Arena, it's likely that the salaries for the USA event were smaller than the salaries for a show in Japan, but it's unlikely that the two sets of numbers would be drastically different from one another.
Though our listings still note which fighters won their fights and which fighters lost, there were no winners' bonuses on this card.
As with UFC salaries, we're listing "Main Event Fighters," "Main Card Fighters," and "Preliminary Fighters." All non-main-event fighter for this card are listed below as "Main Card Fighters" because there were no preliminary bouts on this card. None of the fights were taped before the show went on the air, so there were no "Preliminary Fighters."
Without further ado, here are the fighter salaries for Pride: The Real Deal.
Main Event Fighters
-Fedor Emelianenko: $100,000 (defeated Mark Coleman)
-Mark Coleman: $70,000 (lost to Fedor Emelianenko)
Main Card Fighters
-Josh Barnett: $60,000 (defeated Pawel Nastula)
-Dan Henderson: $50,000 (defeated Vitor Belfort)
-Kevin Randleman: $40,000 (lost to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua)
-Vitor Belfort: $30,000 (lost to Dan Henderson)
-Eric "Butterbean" Esch: $30,000 (defeated Sean O'Haire)
-Mauricio "Shogun" Rua: $25,000 (defeated Kevin Randleman)
-Pawel Nastula: $20,000 (lost to Josh Barnett)
-Phil Baroni: $15,000 (defeated Yosuke Nishijima)
-Yosuke Nishijima: $15,000 (lost to Phil Baroni)
-Sean O'Haire: $15,000 (lost to Eric "Butterbean" Esch)
-Kazuhiro Nakamura: $10,000 (defeated Travis Galbraith)
-Robbie Lawler: $10,000 (defeated Joey Villasenor)
-Joey Villasenor: $3,000 (lost to Robbie Lawler)
-Travis Galbraith: $2,000 (lost to Kazuhiro Nakamura)
Disclosed Fighter Payroll: $495,000
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Vitor Belfort & Pawel Nastula Test Positive for Steroids after Pride Event
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
Breaking News: MMAWeekly has learned that Vitor Belfort and Pawel Nastula tested positive for banned substances after their respective fights on Pride's "Real Deal" card this past Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission has confirmed that Nastula tested positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone, while Belfort tested positive for 4-hydroxytestosterone, which is also legally defined as an anabolic steroid and banned in Major League Baseball and other sports.
Belfort, a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, lost to Dan Henderson by unanimous decision on the Pride card. Nastula, who won a gold medal in Judo at the 1996 Olympic Games, lost by submission to Josh Barnett on the card.
All of the other fighters who were drug-tested on the Pride card passed their drug tests.
As with all cases of a fighter testing positive for banned substances, Belfort and Nastula are entitled to have a disciplinary hearing in front of the athletic commission at some point in the coming months, where they can be represented by counsel and argue their cases if they so choose.
Both fighters face possible suspensions and/or fines, but the athletic commissions do not have any mandatory minimum suspensions for steroid violations, so it's also possible for a fighter to fail a drug test and not be suspended at all.
For as long as a particular fighter is suspended in the state of Nevada, companies that are licensed to promote events in the state of Nevada are strongly discouraged from using that fighter anywhere in the world, which includes Pride's events in Japan. On this subject, Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer told MMAWeekly, "I would expect a expect a licensed promoter to respect any and all NSAC suspensions."
These positive drug tests come in the wake of the Nevada State Athletic Commission increasing the amount of fighters that it drug tests after any given MMA event, while still falling short of drug testing all fighters. The drug testing is the responsibility of the athletic commission, not the responsibility of Pride, the UFC, or any other specific MMA promotion.
The normal pattern in recent years has been for two-to-six fighters to be drug tested after an MMA event in Nevada. However, ten fighters were drug tested on a random basis after their fights at Pride: The Real Deal, which is largest amount at any Nevada-based MMA event in the past several years. One week earlier at UFC 64, seven fighters were drug tested (four fighters in title fights, and three fighters on a random basis).
The eight Pride fighters who were drug tested and passed their tests are Fedor Emelianenko, Mark Coleman, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Kevin Randleman, Josh Barnett, Dan Henderson, Phil Baroni, and Yosuke Nishijima. The other six fighters on the Pride card were not drug tested.
All seven of the fighters who were drug tested at UFC 64 passed their tests. Those fighters are Anderson Silva, Rich Franklin, Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian, Clay Guida, Justin James, and Junior Assuncao. The other nine fighters on the UFC 64 card were not drug tested.
According to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the steroid test for any given fighter costs $154.50, the drug screen (which also tests for recreational drugs) costs $78.90, and the stimulant test costs $45.00, so the total cost of drug testing one fighter is $278.40.
The NSAC spent a total of $2,784 on drug testing for Pride: The Real Deal. The total cost of drug testing every single fighter on the card would have been $4,454.40.
The NSAC spent a total of $1,948.80 on drug testing for UFC 64, and as with the Pride event, the total cost of drug testing all sixteen fighters on the card would have been $4,454.40.
Belfort and Nastula are the third and fourth fighters to fail a drug test before or after a major MMA event so far this year. Earlier this year, Kimo Leopoldo tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol prior to a WFA event in California, and Ultimate Fighter runner-up Stephan Bonnar tested positive for the anabolic steroid boldenone after a UFC event in August.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Pride, UFC, and Strikeforce Attendance Breakdown
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
MMAWeekly has obtained the live gate information for recent MMA events held by Pride, the UFC, and Strikeforce.
When most organizations run an MMA event, there are two sets of attendance numbers. There are the attendance numbers that the promotion claims publicly during or after the event, and then there are the actual, legitimate attendance numbers.
This article will help you separate fact from fiction by providing you with all of the legitimate numbers, which have been verified by the California State Athletic Commission and Nevada State Athletic Commission.
For the Pride: Real Deal event that took place on October 21st at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada and was headlined by Fedor Emelianenko vs. Mark Coleman, the claim was made after the event that the number of paid tickets was 10,527.
In fact, the paid attendance for the event was 8,079. There were also 4,042 fans in attendance who had been given free comp tickets, so the total attendance in the building was 12,121. Approximately 33 percent of those in attendance got in for free, which is a higher percentage than any UFC event so far this year.
The Thomas & Mack Center can hold approximately 18,000 fans for certain events. While Pride's elaborate set-up did block off several thousand seats, the venue could have still held up to 14,000 fans with Pride's set-up.
With fairly high ticket prices, the live gate receipts for Pride: The Real Deal totaled $2,056,044. While that is a higher amount than both UFC 63 and UFC 64, it still falls short of seven UFC events, specifically UFC 52 (Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture II), UFC 54 (Liddell vs. Jeremy Horn), UFC 57 (Liddell vs. Couture III), UFC 59 (Tim Sylvia vs. Andrei Arlovski II, plus Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin), UFC 60 (Matt Hughes vs. Royce Gracie), UFC 61 (Sylvia vs. Arlovski II, plus Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock II), and UFC 62 (Liddell vs. Renato "Babalu" Sobral).
In Japan, Pride regularly sells out the Saitama Super Arena, which holds approximately 35,000 fans, despite the company's claims of selling 45,000+ tickets. If Pride's pre-event claims that the Pride USA event would have a $30 million budget are even close to accurate, then the company lost a massive amount of money on this event. It may be a necessary first step to gain a foothold in the US marketplace, but it's still a massive financial loss.
Given the fact that the attendance for Pride's second event in America is likely to be lower than the attendance for the first event (a company only gets the "first time ever" attendance boost one time in any given market), it is puzzling that Pride is planning to run its second American event at the Thomas & Mack Center instead of a comparatively smaller venue like the Mandalay Bay Events Center or even the MGM Grand.
During the UFC 63 pay-per-view event, which took place on September 23rd at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California and was headlined by Matt Hughes vs. BJ Penn, the claim was made on multiple occasions that the event was "sold out" and that there were "over 18,000 fans in attendance."
In fact, the paid attendance for UFC 63 was 9,343 and the number of free comp tickets was 3,261, so the total number of people in attendance was 12,604.
Approximately 26 percent of those in attendance got in for free, which is the second-highest percentage for any UFC event this year. The highest percentage so far this year was UFC 60, at which 30 percent of the fans in attendance got in for free, but that's still slightly lower than the Pride event's mark of 33 percent.
The live gate receipts for UFC 63 totaled $1,582,370. While that is the tenth-largest total in UFC history, it's also the lowest so far this year for any UFC pay-per-view event in 2006.
After the UFC 64 event concluded on October 14th at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada (headlined by Rich Franklin vs. Anderson Silva), the media was told by the UFC that the paid attendance for the event was 10,863.
In fact, the paid attendance was 8,913. There were also 1,260 fans in attendance who had been given free comp tickets, so the total number of people in attendance was 10,173.
Only 12 percent of those in attendance at UFC 64 got in for free, which is the third-lowest percentage for a UFC PPV event so far this year (only UFC 57 and UFC 61 had lower comp percentages).
As for the live gate receipts, the UFC claimed after the event that the gross ticket sales for the event totaled $2,314,000, which would have been the fifth-largest live gate total for any UFC PPV event thus far in 2006.
In fact, the live gate receipts for UFC 64 totaled $1,790,490, which is the third-lowest live gate total for any UFC PPV event thus far in 2006.
Through October, the UFC's live gate receipts for 2006 have totaled $20,915,287. Pay-per-view revenue is another matter altogether, and one that we have covered in-depth on MMAWeekly in recent months.
As previously reported, the Strikeforce promotion set the all-time North American MMA attendance record in March of this year when an event headlined by Frank Shamrock vs. Cesar Gracie drew over 17,000 paid fans in San Jose, California. That mark has not yet been approached by any other promotion in North America, including the UFC.
However, unlike the UFC, Strikeforce has not been able to maintain its momentum, as evidenced by the attendance figures for the company's most recent event. That event was held on October 7th at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California, and it was headlined by Paul Buentello vs. Tank Abbott.
The paid attendance for the October 7th Strikeforce event was just 3,755. Combined with the 682 fans in attendance who had been given free comp tickets, the total attendance was just 4,437. The live gate receipts for the event totaled $307,820.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Josh Barnett Passes Drug Test; Mark Hunt Still Off Pride Card; Gardner Not on Pride Card
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
Josh Barnett has passed a drug test and has been cleared to fight on Saturday night's Pride card in Las Vegas.
Barnett, who is currently the #3 Heavyweight in the MMAWeekly Rankings, had previously taken drug tests on September 27th and October 7th.
The results of those tests had still not been received as of Thursday morning, and if the results still weren't in by Friday morning, Barnett would not have been cleared to fight as scheduled on Saturday night's Pride show. Fortunately, the negative test results came in on Thursday evening and Barnett is now cleared to fight.
The reason that Barnett had to pass a drug test before he could be licensed to fight in Nevada is that the last time Barnett fought in the United States, back in 2002, his post-fight drug test showed up positive for three kinds of anabolic steroids: Boldenone, Nandrolone, Fluoxymesterone.
Barnett has now tested negative for all banned substances, so he has been cleared to fight as scheduled against Olympic Gold Medalist Pawel Nastula on Saturday night.
Additionally, MMAWeekly has learned that Mark Hunt is definitely off of the Pride USA card due to his ongoing visa issues, and despite reports earlier today, Olympic Gold Medalist Rulon Gardner will also not be fighting on the card.
Pride officials were still hopeful as recently as Thursday evening that Mark Hunt would be able to get his visa issues resolved in time to fight Eric "Butterbean" Esch in a boxing match on Saturday night's show in Las Vegas.
Former pro wrestler and K-1 kickboxer Sean O'Haire had already been secured as a replacement, but Esch vs. Hunt is the match that Pride was still trying hard to put together.
Unfortunately, Hunt's visa issues could not be worked out. Keith Kizer, the Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, tells MMAWeekly, "Pride informed me that Hunt could not get clearance to enter the U.S. because he failed to resolve a legal matter resulting from an alleged altercation in a bar the last time Hunt was in California."
As for the reports that Olympic Gold Medalist Rulon Gardner was going to be Hunt's replacement, Kizer said that Gardner was only scheduled to be on the card if a very specific scenario played out.
If Josh Barnett's drug test results had not come back in time for Barnett to be cleared to fight Pawel Nastula as scheduled, Sean O'Haire would have been the fighter to step into the ring with Nastula instead, and Gardner would have been the fighter to step into the ring with Esch.
As it turns out, because Josh Barnett's drug test results did come back on Thursday and he tested negative, Gardner's services as a last-minute replacement will not be needed.
Instead of fighting Mark Hunt or Rulon Gardner, Esch will be fighting Sean O'Haire on Saturday night in a fight that will be contested under MMA rules.
Pride actually spent several months earlier this year trying to come to an agreement with Gardner to fight Fedor Emelianenko in the main event of the Pride USA show, with the belief that the fight would be a big draw in the United States, Japan, and Russia. When negotiations with Gardner didn't progress after several months, Pride started to look for other possible opponents to face Emelianenko in the main event, and eventually Mark Coleman was signed as Emelianenko's opponent.
Even though Gardner is not fighting on this particular card, just the fact that Pride appeared to have come to financial terms with Gardner is a likely indicator that we'll be seeing Gardner compete in at least one more Pride fight in the future. With that in mind, it's a safe bet that at some point Pride will begin to push hard once again to put together a match-up between Gardner and Fedor Emelianenko.
Gardner has one MMA fight under his belt, a decision victory over Hidehiko Yoshida on December 31st, 2004 in a Pride fight in which Yoshida suffered a broken foot.
Gardner showed no interest in having anymore MMA fights after that, partially because he said he didn't feel comfortable in MMA and partially because he given two yellow cards during the Yoshida fight, which took away 20 percent of his pay.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ultimate Fighter Draws Series-Low 1.0 Rating
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
Just two days after every UFC ratings record in the book was shattered by Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock III on Spike TV with a 3.1 overall rating, Episode Nine of The Ultimate Fighter 4 drew an overall rating of 1.0 on Thursday, October 12th.
The overall rating of 1.0 is the smallest in the history of The Ultimate Fighter for a regularly scheduled new episode. The previous week's overall rating of 1.1 had tied the previous all-time low for a new episode on any season of TUF, but the latest rating of 1.0 has set a new all-time low in the record books.
It's important to keep this in perspective, as a 1.0 overall rating is still a hit on cable TV. Nonetheless, it is hugely disappointing for both Zuffa and Spike due to the ratings that were drawn by the series' first three seasons.
Ortiz-Shamrock Viewers Don't Tune Into TUF Two Days Later
The low ratings for TUF are troubling not just because of the actual ratings, but also because this episode of TUF came just two days after more people than ever before were exposed to the UFC product and saw commercials for The Ultimate Fighter. The average number of viewers at any given time for UFC: The Final Chapter on October 10th was 4.2 million, compared to 1.5 million for the new episode of TUF that aired two days later.
Instead of a certain percentage of the massive Final Chapter audience trying out TUF to see if they like it, which is the ratings trend that one would normally expect in such a scenario, TUF's ratings were actually down from the previous week. The same was the case for UFC Unleashed, which drew a 0.9 overall rating, marking the first time since August 10th that UFC Unleashed drew an overall rating of less than 1.0 in its regular timeslot.
Portion of Unleashed Audience Tunes Out Again; Lytle vs. Thomas Doesn't Draw
For the second consecutive week, the people who turned off Spike TV when The Ultimate Fighter started at 10:00 PM actually outnumbered the people who tuned into Spike TV when TUF started at 10:00 PM. The end of a UFC Unleashed repeat drew a 1.1 quarter-hour rating leading up to 10:00 PM, and then the first quarter-hour of TUF drew a slightly smaller 1.0 rating.
In addition, the first semi-final match-up was the least watched fight so far this season. Previously, the least-watched fight of the season had been Patrick Cote vs. Jorge Rivera in Episode Eight (the fight drew a 1.2 rating), but the Episode Nine semi-final fight between Chris Lytle and Din Thomas drew a 1.0 rating.
Episode Nine Comparisons
Compared to Episode Nine of previous TUF seasons, the 1.0 overall rating that was drawn by Episode Nine of this season does not stack up. Episode Nine of the first season featured Forrest Griffin's victory over Alex Schoenauer and drew a 1.5 overall rating. Episode Nine of the second season featured Rashad Evans' victory over Mike Whitehead and drew a 1.1 overall rating, which was the series' all-time low at the time. Episode Nine of the third season featured Matt Hamill's victory over Mike Nickels and drew a 1.8 overall rating.
Through nine episodes, The Ultimate Fighter 4 is the least-watched season of TUF to date, with an average overall rating of 1.3. Prior to Season Four, only two regularly scheduled new episodes of The Ultimate Fighter in series history had ever drawn overall ratings lower than 1.3.
Key Demographic Increases Slightly; Serra vs. Carter Could Boost the Ratings
One bright spot for Episode Nine's ratings is that while other demographics decreased, the rating among 18-to-34-year-old males increased slightly, as it went from 1.7 for Episode Eight to 1.9 for Episode Nine. However, the rating of 1.9 is still down drastically from Season Three's average-through-nine-episodes of 3.0 in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic. It's also lower than Season Four's own average-through-nine-episodes of 2.2 in this demographic. Still, it's some good news amidst a lot of bad news.
If ever there was an episode of The Ultimate Fighter 4 that was going to pop a rating, it would be this week's Episode Ten, featuring the heavily-hyped semi-final fight between Matt Serra and Shonie Carter. In addition to the fact that commercials on Spike TV have been promoting the fight all week, a significant portion of this season has been dedicated to building up this particular fight, as Serra and Carter have been the most prominently featured contestants on the season by a large margin.
It's hard to tell with the ratings trending downward the way they are, but one would expect the Serra-Carter fight to cause a slight ratings increase, and if the fans who tune in specifically for the Serra-Carter fight enjoy what they see on the show in general, a decent percentage of them will also tune into Episodes Eleven and Twelve as well. That's what Zuffa and Spike have to be hoping for, but there have been other heavily-hyped events this season that have had little-to-no impact on the ratings (including Serra's first fight on the show, and the commercials early this season which hyped that one of the contestants was getting kicked off the show on the following episode).
Network Competition on October 12th, and Ratings for Spike TV's Scream Awards
Airing head-to-head with The Ultimate Fighter on Thursday, October 12th from 10:00 PM to 11:00 PM, ABC's Six Degrees continued its slow march towards cancellation with an overall rating of 6.3. Meanwhile, CBS' Shark came closer to toppling NBC's ER in the ratings, but fell just short, as Shark drew a 9.2 overall rating and ER drew a 9.4 overall rating.
Airing head-to-head with UFC Unleashed in the 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM hour, Grey's Anatomy on ABC eliminated any doubt that it is here to stay as the most-watched show on Thursday nights, and also the most-watched show on all of television (at least until American Idol comes back in January). Grey's Anatomy out-drew CBS' CSI for the fourth consecutive week, as Grey's Anatomy drew a 14.6 overall rating and CSI drew a 13.3 overall rating. While it's still one of the most-watched shows on television, CSI has lost the "untouchable" aura that it had just five months ago.
Also in the 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM, NBC's Deal or No Deal drew a 6.2 overall rating, as it continues to be put in a sacrificial position by NBC because the network knows that Deal or No Deal is going to draw a decent rating no matter how difficult its timeslot. A Major League Baseball playoff game drew a 5.5 overall rating on Fox, which was down significantly from the 6.4 overall rating that the first LCS broadcast drew on Fox in October 2005.
Airing immediately after the record-breaking broadcast of UFC: The Final Chapter on Tuesday, October 10th, the Spike TV Scream Awards can be described as nothing less than a ratings disaster. Despite the fact that its lead-in drew a 3.1 overall rating, the Scream Awards broadcast drew an overall rating of 0.9.
To put into perspective how much of a disappointment this is, keep in mind that any show on television that retains less than 50 percent of its overall lead-in audience is generally viewed as a monumental failure. The Scream Awards retained just 29 percent of UFC: The Final Chapter's overall viewership, 29 percent of The Final Chapter's 18-to-34-year-old male viewership, and 28 percent of The Final Chapter's 18-to-49-year-old male viewership.
The episode of the pro wrestling show TNA Impact that aired immediately after The Ultimate Fighter on Thursday, October 12th also drew a 0.9 overall rating, but its lead-in was less than one-third the size of the Scream Awards' lead-in. The October 12th edition of TNA Impact retained 90 percent of The Ultimate Fighter's overall viewership, 68 percent of The Ultimate Fighter's 18-to-34-year-old male viewership, and 77 percent of The Ultimate Fighter's 18-to-49-year-old male viewership.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC 63 and UFC 64 Fighter Salary Breakdown
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
MMAWeekly has obtained the fighter salary information for UFC 63 and UFC 64. UFC 63 took place on September 23rd in Anaheim, California, and UFC 64 took place on October 14th in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The following figures are from the fighter salary information that the UFC is required by law to submit to the state athletic commissions, including the winners' bonuses.
Although MMA fighters are not unionized, the fighters' salaries are still public record, just as with every other major sport in the United States. Any "secret money" that the UFC also pays its fighters (specifically, PPV bonuses for the top PPV main event fighters) is not included in the figures below.
On the subject of fighter pay, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer recently reported that despite its drastically increased revenue, Zuffa has made a conscious business decision to not raise the pay scale for all but the top pay-per-view main event fighters.
Meltzer added, "The pay scale [for non-main-event fighters] has not changed even with the success of the organization, and that's why it's a lot harder for Zuffa to put together cards with depth, even without factoring in running so many more shows per year. The best 'non-superstar' talent can get more money right now with the IFL or other groups, and that siphons away 60 to 90 potential fighters."
In the listings below, "Title Match & Main Event Fighters" are defined as fighters who compete in the main event of a show and/or compete in a title fight on a show. "Main Card Fighters" are defined as fighters whose fights appear on the main card, but not in title fights or in the main event. "Preliminary Match Fighters" are defined as fighters whose matches take place before the live broadcast goes on the air, regardless of whether or not those matches end up airing on the PPV broadcast.
Without further ado, here are the fighter salaries for UFC 63 and UFC 64 from the California State Athletic Commission and Nevada State Athletic Commission.
UFC 63 Fighter Salaries
Event took place on September 23, 2006 and aired on pay-per-view
Title Match & Main Event Fighters
-Matt Hughes: $130,000 (defeated BJ Penn)
-BJ Penn: $50,000 (lost to Matt Hughes)
Main Card Fighters
-Jens Pulver: $30,000 (lost to Joe Lauzon)
-Rashad Evans: $24,000 (defeated Jason Lambert)
-Mike Swick: $14,000 (defeated David Loiseau)
-Melvin Guillard: $10,000 (defeated Gabe Ruediger)
-Jason Lambert: $9,000 (lost to Rashad Evans)
-David Loiseau: $9,000 (lost to Mike Swick)
-Joe Lauzon: $6,000 (defeated Jens Pulver)
-Gabe Ruediger: $3,000 (lost to Melvin Guillard)
Preliminary Match Fighters
-Tyson Griffin: $14,000 (defeated David Lee)
-Jorge Gurgel: $10,000 (defeated Danny Abaddi)
-Roger Huerta: $6,000 (defeated Jason Dent)
-Danny Abaddi: $5,000 (lost to Jorge Gurgel)
-Eddie Sanchez: $4,000 (defeated Mario Neto)
-Jason Dent: $3,000 (lost to Roger Huerta)
-Mario Neto: $3,000 (lost to Eddie Sanchez)
-David Lee: $2,000 (lost to Tyson Griffin)
Disclosed Fighter Payroll for UFC 63: $332,000
UFC 64 Fighter Salaries
Event took place on October 14, 2006 and aired on pay-per-view
Title Match & Main Event Fighters
-Anderson Silva: $50,000 (defeated Rich Franklin)
-Sean Sherk: $22,000 (defeated Kenny Florian)
-Rich Franklin: $21,000 (lost to Anderson Silva)
-Kenny Florian: $8,000 (lost to Sean Sherk)
Main Card Fighters
-Cheick Kongo: $20,000 (lost to Carmelo Marrero)
-Spencer Fisher: $20,000 (defeated Dan Lauzon)
-Jon Fitch: $20,000 (defeated Kuniyoshi Hironaka)
-Kuniyoshi Hironaka: $6,000 (lost to Jon Fitch)
-Carmelo Marrero: $6,000 (defeated Cheick Kongo)
-Dan Lauzon: $3,000 (lost to Spencer Fisher)
Preliminary Match Fighters
-Yushin Okami: $12,000 (defeated Kalib Starnes)
-Clay Guida: $6,000 (defeated Justin James)
-Kalib Starnes: $5,000 (lost to Yushin Okami)
-Kurt Pellegrino: $4,000 (defeated Junior Assuncao)
-Junior Assuncao: $3,000 (lost to Kurt Pellegrino)
-Justin James: $3,000 (lost to Clay Guida)
Disclosed Fighter Payroll for UFC 64: $209,000
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ultimate Fighter Ties All-Time Series Low Rating
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
Episode Eight of The Ultimate Fighter 4 drew a disappointing 1.1 overall rating on Thursday, October 5th. This ties the all-time series low for a regularly scheduled episode of TUF, which was previously set by Episode Nine of the second season and by Episode Four of this season just a few weeks ago.
Compared to the previous week's disappointing ratings, Episode Eight was down from 1.3 overall to 1.1 overall. In the 18-to-49-year-old demographic, it was down from 1.6 to 1.4. In the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, it was down from 2.1 to 1.7, which is the second-lowest rating that TUF has ever drawn in the most advertiser-coveted demographic
TUF 4 is Least-Watched Season to Date
On a larger scale than one week of disappointing ratings, the general public's interest level in TUF has never been lower, based on all of the Neilsen data. In the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, TUF 4 has averaged a 1.7 rating through its first eight episodes, which is down from Season Three's 2.2 average at the same point.
Even more significantly, in the advertiser-friendly 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, TUF 4 has averaged a 2.2 rating through its first eight episodes, which is down significantly from Season Three's 2.9 average.
It's natural for one to think that this is merely because TUF 3 was such a ratings sensation, but the unflattering comparisons do not end with TUF 3. Through eight episodes, TUF 4 is averaging a 1.3 overall rating.
This average of 1.3 is down from the first season's average of 1.7 through eight episodes; it's down from the first season's 1.6 average at the same point in the season; and yes, it's even down from the much-maligned second season's average of 1.5 at the same point in the season.
Competition for Male Viewers Smaller for TUF 4 Than it Was for TUF 2
There is a perception that TUF 4 is going up against stiffer competition than previous seasons of TUF when it comes to male-oriented programming, but that is not actually the case.
The fourth season of TUF has had to go head-to-head with a regular season NFL game exactly one time (on September 7th).
On the other hand, The Ultimate Fighter 2 went head-to-head with ratings powerhouse Monday Night Football on ABC for all but three weeks of its entire season, and yet TUF 2 still drew better ratings than TUF 4 has drawn up to this point. In addition, TUF 2 aired in a worse timeslot (11:00 PM) when the total amount of people watching television is significantly smaller.
The Monday Night Football broadcasts that went head-on with TUF 2 drew an average rating of 10.0 overall, a significant percentage of which were the young adult male viewers that watch the UFC. Other than one week of NFL football, TUF 4 has faced nothing of the sort, instead going up against baseball games with overall ratings in the 4's and 5's, as well as college football games with ratings in the 2's.
UFC Unleashed Generating Just as Much or More Interest than TUF
It is becoming more and more apparent with each passing week that a significant number of viewers, first numbering in the thousands and now well into the six figures, consider themselves to be "UFC fans" or "MMA fans," but are not interested in watching this season of TUF for whatever reason.
This point is demonstrated week after week by the fact that replays of old fights that have already been replayed numerous times on Spike TV have been generating just as much viewer interest as brand new episodes of The Ultimate Fighter. The repeat of UFC Unleashed that aired immediately before Episode Eight of TUF 4 drew the same overall rating as TUF: 1.1.
In a somewhat alarming sign, several hundred thousand television viewers who had been watching UFC Unleashed actually changed the channel at 10:00 PM when UFC Unleashed ended and TUF started. The rating normally darts upward right at 10:00 PM, as one would expect when a repeat is ending and a new episode of an original series is just starting, but the opposite was true in this case.
The quarter-hour rating for the end of UFC Unleashed was 1.3 overall, and this number actually decreased to 1.0 for the beginning of TUF. The amount of people who were watching TUF did not increase all that much from there, as the show-closing fight between Patrick Cote and Jorge Rivera averaged a 1.2 rating.
This could indicate that more viewers are interested in actual fights, or that many viewers may have soured on the general concept of watching a reality show about MMA (because they would rather just watch the fights), or that some specific elements of TUF 4 have turned off viewers and have made them not want to watch the show anymore. More than likely, it's a combination of these factors, but whatever the reason, this has to cause concern for the ratings of the already-ordered TUF 5, TUF 6, and TUF 7.
On a broader scale, only two of the last six repeat airings of UFC Unleashed have drawn lower ratings than the 1.1 overall rating that a new episode of TUF drew on October 5th, and even those two Unleashed repeats drew overall ratings of 1.0.
There has never been a regularly scheduled new episode of TUF that has drawn a 1.0 overall rating, but with the way the ratings have been going this season, it could very well happen at some point in the coming weeks unless there is a major change in momentum.
Network Competition on October 5th, and UFC Octagon Girl Search Ratings
Airing head-to-head with The Ultimate Fighter on Thursday, October 5th from 10:00 PM to 11:00 PM, ABC's Six Degrees continued its steady decline in viewership, as it drew an overall rating of just 6.6, which will eventually get the show cancelled if there is no ratings improvement. Six Degrees no longer approaches Shark on CBS, which drew a 9.2 overall rating. Also, while ER is nowhere near the ratings force that it was once, the veteran drama series won the hour with a 9.6 overall rating on NBC.
Airing head-to-head with UFC Unleashed in the 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM hour, Grey's Anatomy out-drew CSI for the third consecutive week, as Grey's Anatomy drew a 14.8 overall rating and CSI drew a 13.3 overall rating. Within the TV industry, the realization is starting to sink in that it was not a one-time aberration, and the show that was previously the most-watched show on television really has been dethroned by the up-and-coming medical drama. Also in this hour, NBC's Deal or No Deal drew a 6.3 overall rating (solid considering the overwhelming competition), and the Major League Baseball Playoffs drew a disappointing 4.1 overall rating on Fox.
Airing in primetime on Monday, October 2nd at 10:00 PM, the UFC Octagon Girl Search bombed with a 0.6 overall rating. The show didn't fare much better in the advertiser-targeted demographics, as it drew a rating of just 0.8 in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, and a rating of just 0.6 in the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic.
Airing immediately after The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV on October 5th was the pro wrestling show TNA Impact, which drew a 0.8 overall rating.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock Shatters All UFC Ratings Records
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
The two-hour Spike TV broadcast of "UFC: The Final Chapter" shattered all of the UFC's ratings records on Tuesday night, October 10th.
Headlined by the third and final match between former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz and MMA legend Ken Shamrock, the two-hour broadcast averaged a 3.1 overall rating, with a 2.8 average in the first hour and a 3.4 average in the second hour.
UFC Ratings Record Book Gets Re-Written in One Night
Previously, the highest-rated UFC broadcast of all time was the live season finale of The Ultimate Fighter 3, which drew a 2.0 overall rating on June 24th, 2006. There was previously one other occasion when the UFC drew a 2.0 overall rating for a live Spike TV broadcast (the live season finale of TUF 2), and this was also the case with three separate pre-taped episodes of The Ultimate Fighter (two episodes from the first season of the show, along with the season premiere of TUF 3). However, the highest-rated broadcast in terms of overall viewership was the live season finale of TUF 3.
All of those records have now been demolished by UFC: The Final Chapter. The ratings expectations for The Final Chapter within Spike TV were that the show would break the 3.0 mark, which would have sounded like an insanely unrealistic goal if it weren't for the fact that the show was headlined by a fight between Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock.
Though the fight itself lasted less than three minutes, the time period that contained the actual Ortiz-Shamrock fight itself and the pre-fight introductions drew an enormously impressive 4.3 rating.
That breaks down to an amazing 5.7 million viewers for the fight. This shatters the UFC's previous record for the number of people watching a UFC fight at any given time. The previous record was 3.4 million viewers, despite repeated claims by Zuffa that the first fight between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar was watched live by ten million viewers.
Quarter-Hour Ratings Show Growth Throughout the Show
As is always the case with live UFC broadcasts on Spike TV, the least-watched quarter-hour was the first.
The first fight on the broadcast was Matt Hamill's victory over Seth Petruzelli, which started off with a 2.4 rating at the beginning of the fight and proceeded to grow by an unusually high margin to a 3.0 rating at the end of the fight.
Jason MacDonald's victory over Ed Herman drew a 2.8 rating, while Kendall Grove's victory over Chris Price drew a 3.1 rating.
As expected, the Ortiz-Shamrock fight led to a massive jump in the quarter-hour ratings, as the fight itself drew a rating of 4.3.
The Ortiz-Shamrock fight ended at 9:44 PM Eastern Time, and approximately one-third of the viewing audience did not stick around for the post-fight interviews, as the rating for the final quarter-hour of the broadcast fell to 3.0, which is still a tremendously successful quarter-hour rating.
Demographic Ratings Even More Impressive than Overall Rating
In the specific viewership demographics that the UFC and Spike TV make an effort to target so that they can boost their revenue with the sale of TV commercials, The Final Chapter performed even more impressively than the 3.1 overall rating would suggest.
In the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, the previous all-time record for any complete UFC broadcast was a 2.9 rating for the live finale of TUF 3. The Final Chapter averaged a 4.5 rating in this demographic, far eclipsing the previous record.
In the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, which is the UFC's primary audience and is also the demographic that advertisers across many industries are struggling to reach, the previous all-time record for any complete UFC broadcast was 3.8 for the live finale of TUF 3. The Final Chapter averaged a whopping 6.0 rating in this demographic.
To put this number in perspective, the UFC broadcast averaged 1.6 million viewers in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, which was greater than the 1.1 million viewers in the same demographic who watched the baseball playoff game between the A's and the Tigers.
While the average viewership of the baseball game was significantly higher when it comes to overall viewers (7.8 million to 4.2 million), there can be no doubt that drawing such a huge rating in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic will open a lot of people's eyes and will bring many new advertisers into the mix for the UFC in the future.
Final Chapter Draws Huge Ratings at the Same Time that TUF Hits New Lows
The huge rating that was drawn by The Final Chapter comes at a time when The Ultimate Fighter is hitting an all-time low in viewership up against competition that is no more difficult than the competition faced by previous seasons of TUF.
The Final Chapter's huge ratings serve as another reminder that there are an increasing number of fans out there who consider themselves "UFC fans" or "MMA fans," but are not particularly interested in the fourth season of TUF for whatever reason.
It's possible that many of the viewers who watched The Final Chapter on Tuesday will check out TUF on Thursday, and it would significantly help TUF's ratings if even a small percentage of The Final Chapter's audience were to sample TUF this week.
Ortiz-Shamrock Feud Was Not for Purists, but it Brought in the Dough
While most hardcore MMA fans were not particularly looking forward to Ortiz-Shamrock III, the fact remains that Ortiz vs. Shamrock is the biggest-drawing feud in United States MMA history, and this was further cemented by the monstrous rating that their third fight drew on Spike TV.
As previously reported by MMAWeekly, significant elements of the Tito Ortiz-Ken Shamrock feud were worked, specifically the constantly repeated claim that they really, really hated each other's guts and could barely be in the same room without a fight breaking out.
None of their actual fights were worked in any way, but the feud itself was worked in the sense that their real-life dislike for each other was greatly embellished to draw money, and the embarrassing worked pull-apart scenarios on TUF 3 speak for themselves.
The business-oriented nature of Ortiz and Shamrock's "hatred" towards each other was all-but-acknowledged immediately after Ortiz' third victory over Shamrock on Tuesday night. After Ortiz flipped off Shamrock (in order to, as he put it, "put on the entertainment for the fans"), Shamrock approached Ortiz and could be heard on national television telling Ortiz, "It was all business, man. You and me made a lot of money together. It was all business." Ortiz then said in his post-fight interview that he has always looked up to Shamrock.
To the millions of people watching at that moment, the vast majority of whom are casual MMA fans who watch the UFC on Spike TV but don't follow the product closely enough to have already known that it was "all business," that may have been a jarring thing to hear just minutes after they had watched video packages about how much Ortiz and Shamrock "really, really hated each other."
If any of those fans feel misled by the nature of the rivalry itself, they would have every right to feel that way. If any fans took Shamrock's comments to mean that any aspects of the actual Ortiz-Shamrock fights were worked, that would be unfortunate because that is not the case in any way, shape, or form. The actual fights themselves were completely legit.
This fight is another in a trend of UFC main events that were booked with the knowledge that one fighter was overwhelming likely to win (ie, Rich Franklin vs. Shamrock, Matt Hughes vs. Royce Gracie, Ortiz vs. Shamrock II, Ortiz vs. Shamrock III).
In that sense, the main difference between pro wrestling and this particular style of MMA promoting is that pro wrestling promoters can be 100% certain that the expected outcome will occur, whereas MMA promoters are still promoting shoot fights at the end of the day, so they can only be about 90% sure of the outcome even in the most lopsided of match-ups.
With Ken Shamrock's UFC career coming to an end, he wasn't able to go out on top from on an athletic standpoint, but he certainly was able to go out on top from a business standpoint, as his feud with Tito Ortiz is the biggest-drawing feud in the history of MMA in the United States.
WWE Over-Reacts to UFC's Special and Ends Up with Little to Show for It
In part because the UFC often employs the aforementioned pro wrestling-style promoting strategies, and in part because the two companies target the same viewer demographics, the UFC's biggest competition is WWE, and WWE's biggest competition is the UFC, no matter how much that fact is denied or reviled by WWE, Zuffa, MMA fans, or pro wrestling fans.
When World Wrestling Entertainment chairman Vince McMahon found out that the UFC was running a high-profile live fight special on October 10th that was expected to exceed a 3.0 overall rating, he went into full-fledged "war mode" and scheduled two big shows to take place on the night before and the night of the UFC broadcast.
Of course, the ratings for one particular week of television are not going to make or break WWE, but by all accounts McMahon takes these kinds of things personally and is extremely competitive, compulsive, and aggressive.
Airing from 10:00 PM to 11:00 PM on Sci-Fi Channel, WWE's Tuesday night show was hyped for several weeks and featured the oldest ratings stunt in the book. In addition to the evening's pro wrestling action, WWE heavily promoted a "live strip poker game" featuring the women of WWE.
Despite this ratings stunt, the show drew a 1.8 overall rating, which was not even an increase from the normal rating for WWE's Tuesday night show. The UFC's two-hour broadcast handily beat WWE's broadcast on the same night, despite the fact that WWE had a much bigger marketing machine hyping its broadcast.
The night before UFC: The Final Chapter, WWE put on a special three-hour broadcast that was designed to draw a much-higher-than-usual rating and crush whatever rating the UFC broadcast might draw on Tuesday night. Airing from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM on Monday night on USA Network, the "WWE Raw Family Reunion" drew a 3.8 overall rating, which was barely up from WWE Raw's recent average.
The 3.8 rating is hugely disappointing for WWE, which first failed in its goal to demolish the UFC with its Monday night rating and then actually lost by an embarrassing margin with its Tuesday night rating.
While WWE can still claim that it "beat the UFC" since the Raw Family Reunion drew a 3.8 overall rating compared to the UFC's 3.1 overall rating, the UFC always has the last laugh in these sorts of battles with WWE due to the huge disparity in the American pay-per-view buyrates of the two companies.
WWE often surpasses the 4.0 mark with Raw on Monday nights, its pay-per-views struggle on a month-to-month basis to surpass 200,000 domestic PPV buys, and even the once-mighty WrestleMania drew just 560,000 American PPV buys this year.
Meanwhile, the UFC can air a well-produced PPV preview show on Spike TV that might not even draw a 1.0 overall rating for any of its individual airings, and then they draw 600,000+ PPV buys for UFC 60 and 775,000+ PPV buys for UFC 61.
The bottom line is that even though WWE has far more viewers on cable TV than the UFC, it's equally true that the UFC has far more fans in the United States who are willing to actually spend money to buy PPV events. It's not a matter of "when" the UFC will surpass WWE in this area: It has already happened.
Head-to-Head Network Competition
Airing head-to-head with UFC: The Final Chapter on Tuesday, October 10th in the 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM hour, ABC's Dancing with the Stars led the way with a massive 13.2 overall rating, while the drama NCIS (no relation to CSI) held up fairly well with a 9.9 overall rating on CBS. A Major League Baseball playoff game on Fox drew a 5.0 overall rating in this hour, while NBC's new drama Friday Night Lights drew a very disappointing 4.1 overall rating, which is the kind of number that will get it cancelled if the ratings don't immediately improve.
Airing head-to-head with the UFC in the 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM hour, which is the hour that featured the Ortiz-Shamrock fight, CBS' drama The Unit won a closely-contested battle with NBC's Law & Order: Criminal Intent, as The Unit drew an overall rating of 8.3 and Criminal Intent drew an overall rating of 7.9. The Major League Baseball playoff game on Fox improved significantly from a 5.0 rating in the previous hour to a 6.0 rating in this hour. The new ABC comedy Help Me Help You is going to need help if it wants to be around at this time next year, because it retained just over 50% of its Dancing with the Stars lead-in. While the show drew a 7.0 overall rating, which would normally be great for a comedy series, a 7.0 rating is considered disappointing when the lead-in show draws a 13.2 rating.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ultimate Fighter Ratings Flat in Week Seven
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
Episode Seven of The Ultimate Fighter 4 drew a 1.3 overall rating on Thursday, September 28th. It was the same overall rating that the show drew one week earlier, and it continued the trend of TUF 4 being the least-watched season of TUF to date.
In the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, Episode Seven drew a 2.1 rating, which was down slightly from the previous week's 2.2 rating in the same demographic. In the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, the show drew a 1.6 rating, which was down slightly from the previous week's 1.8.
Ratings Strong by Spike TV's Standards, but Not Strong by UFC's Standards
The good news for Zuffa and Spike TV is that the ratings appeared to have bottomed out a few weeks ago, and it doesn't appear that the show is going to be drawing any less than a 1.3 or 1.2 overall rating on a weekly basis.
Overall ratings in the 1.2 to 1.3 range are still strong ratings for Spike TV, which was the #16 cable network last week with a primetime average rating of 0.8.
However, Episode Seven of The Ultimate Fighter 4 does not compare favorably with previous seasons of TUF as far as ratings are concerned. Episode Seven of TUF 3, featuring Josh Haynes' victory over Tait Fletcher, drew a 1.9 overall rating. Episode Seven of TUF 2, featuring Seth Petruzelli's victory over Dan Christison, drew a 1.3 overall rating. Episode Seven of TUF 1, featuring Stephan Bonnar's victory over Bobby Southworth, drew a 1.7 overall rating.
Matt Serra's Heavily Hyped Fight Does Not Lead to Ratings Boost
Episode Seven's ratings did not increase as a result of an event that a significant portion of the first six episodes was spent hyping: Matt Serra stepping into the Octagon and fighting.
Matt Serra and Shonie Carter have been the only two contestants on this season of the show to have a significant amount of character development and air time dedicated to them. Serra emerged as his team's unofficial leader and cornerman, while Carter's antics annoyed many of his housemates.
The difference is that while Shonie Carter fought on the very first episode of the season, Serra still hadn't fought on the show through six episodes, and the majority of TUF 4's viewers have never seen Serra fight.
There was a week-long advertising campaign on Spike TV that specifically hyped the fact that Matt Serra would be fighting on Episode Seven, but it did not lead to the ratings increase that one might have expected.
Even Serra's fight itself did not lead to an increase over the previous quarter-hour viewership, as the preceding quarter-hour drew a 1.4 rating and the fight itself also drew a 1.4 rating.
Network Competition Notes
Airing head-to-head with The Ultimate Fighter on Thursday, September 28th from 10:00 PM to 11:00 PM, the new CBS drama Shark drew a 9.5 overall rating. Shark not only out-muscled the new ABC drama Six Degrees, which drew a 7.3 overall rating, but it also tied NBC's ER with its 9.5 rating.
Leading into the seventh episode of TUF 4, a repeat of UFC Unleashed aired from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM on September 28th and drew an overall rating of 1.0 for the second consecutive week.
Airing head-to-head with UFC Unleashed were two of the most-watched shows on television, as new episodes of Grey's Anatomy on ABC and CSI on CBS went head-to-head for the second week. While Grey's Anatomy shockingly won the head-to-head battle with CSI on September 21st by a significant margin (15.7 to 13.5), the gap narrowed significantly on September 28th. On that date, Grey's Anatomy drew a 14.9 overall rating, while CSI drew a 14.2 overall rating. It's still surprising to see CSI losing to anything under any circumstances, but it was a much closer battle in week two.
The other shows that aired head-to-head with UFC Unleashed in the 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM hour were a new episode of Deal or No Deal on NBC and the Thursday finale of Celebrity Duets on Fox. Deal or No Deal drew a respectable 6.5 overall rating, while Celebrity Duets drew a disappointing 2.9 overall rating on Fox.
Airing immediately after The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV at 11:00 PM on September 28th was the pro wrestling show TNA Impact, which drew a slightly higher-than-usual rating of 0.9, in large part due to TNA's signing of Kurt Angle.
The episode of ABC's Dancing with the Stars that aired on Tuesday, September 26th and featured the UFC's Chuck Liddell drew an overall rating of 11.8. Liddell was shown in the crowd cheering for Willa Ford, and he was wearing a t-shirt that said, "Vote for Willa... or Else." Though Ford was in the bottom three on the previous two weeks of the show, she was not eliminated on the September 27th results show. While Liddell was not shown in the crowd this week, Ford's continued presence on the series will only increases the chances of Liddell, and MMA in general, getting more exposure in front of a huge national television audience.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Extension Granted in Stephan Bonnar's Steroids Case
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
With the September 26th deadline for a formal response having come and gone, Stephan Bonnar and his attorneys have been given an extension to formally respond to the Nevada State Athletic Commission's complaint regarding a positive test for anabolic steroids.
Bonnar lost to Forrest Griffin by unanimous decision at UFC 62 on August 26th, and a formal complaint was filed on September 6th in which the NSAC notified Bonnar that his post-fight urinalysis came up positive for Boldenone, which is a banned anabolic steroid that is intended for use only by veterinarians, primarily to help rehabilitate injured horses.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission initially gave Bonnar and his attorneys 20 days from the date of the complaint to issue a formal response, but Bonnar's attorneys met with the NSAC shortly before the deadline and were granted an extension. Bonnar and his attorneys now have until this coming Wednesday, October 4th, to formally respond to the charges.
After Bonnar's side has issued its formal response, the NSAC will set the date for a disciplinary hearing, at which Bonnar could be fined and/or suspended. As previously reported, the amount of the fine can be up to $250,000, or the complete amount of the fighter's purse for the event, whichever amount is greater. In this case, Bonnar's purse for the August 26th fight was $16,000, so the maximum possible fine is $250,000.
The length of the suspension can be whatever the NSAC deems appropriate, but the suspensions have generally ranged from three to twelve months in past instances of mixed martial artists and boxers testing positive for banned substances.
In Bonnar's case, it's unlikely that he would have fought again this year even if he hadn't tested positive for a banned substance at UFC 62, due to the fact that he had already been medically suspended for six months as a result of a broken right thumb suffered during the fight against Griffin.
A total of eighteen fighters competed on the UFC 62 card on August 26th, and four of those eighteen fighters were drug tested by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which is not an atypical amount for a UFC event held in the state of Nevada.
MMAWeekly will continue to keep you updated on any further developments in this story.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ultimate Fighter Ratings Up Slightly to 1.3; Chuck Liddell on Network TV
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
Episode Six of The Ultimate Fighter 4 drew a 1.3 overall rating on Thursday, September 21st, which was up slightly from the previous week's 1.2 overall rating.
While this season of TUF has fallen far short of TUF 3 in the ratings throughout the first half of its season, there has been a slight positive trend in the ratings over the past few weeks.
The overall rating is going to have to be higher than 1.3 on a weekly basis in order for TUF 4 to not end up being the lowest rated season of TUF to date, but on this particular week, the overall rating of 1.3 must have brought a sigh of relief to Spike TV and Zuffa.
After the overall ratings bottomed out with a series-low of 1.1 with Episode Four, the fifth episode of the season drew a 1.2 overall rating, and now the sixth episode has drawn a 1.3 overall rating. In that sense, there is reason for optimism if the ratings continue to improve.
In the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, Episode Six of TUF 4 drew a 2.2 rating, which was up from the previous week's rating of 1.9 in that demographic. Again, coupled with the increase in the overall rating, there is reason for optimism.
Season-to-Season Comparisons Still Disappointing
An overall rating of 1.3 would normally be considered a big hit on cable television, and it still is in the case of TUF. It's only disappointing when compared to the expectations that have been set by previous seasons of The Ultimate Fighter.
Episode Six of TUF 3 drew a 1.7 overall rating, and it was highlighted by the drama of Noah Inhofer quitting the show after an envelope with a letter from his girlfriend mysteriously showed up at the gym. Episode Six of TUF 2 drew a 1.4 overall rating, and it was highlighted by Jason Von Flue's victory over Jorge Gurgel. Episode Six of TUF 1 drew a 2.0 overall rating, and it was highlighted by Josh Koscheck's victory over Chris Leben.
Episode Six from season one is still tied for the highest-rated UFC broadcast of all time, although the 2.0 record is expected to be shattered by the Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock special on October 10th, which the UFC and Spike are hoping will surpass the 3.0 mark.
On a season-to-season basis, the first six episodes of TUF 3 averaged a 1.7 overall rating, while the first six episodes of TUF 4 averaged a 1.4 overall rating.
Just as notably, TUF 4 is averaging a 2.3 rating in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic through six episodes, which is down from the 2.9 mark set by the first six episodes of season three.
One Week of Hype for Matt Serra's Fight Could Boost the Ratings
If there's one thing that has been built up on the show throughout the season, it's Matt Serra stepping into the Octagon and fighting. Serra has been the most prominently featured contestant on the show, and if the producers and editors of the show have succeeded in making viewers anticipate Serra's first fight on the show, then it would stand to reason that Episode Seven could draw a better rating than Episode Six.
This could be further aided by the fact that Serra's welterweight quarter-final bout is the last of the welterweight quarter-finals, so Spike TV can (and has) hyped all week long in commercials that Matt Serra will be fighting on Thursday's episode.
Normally, specific fights can't be hyped ahead of time because a large part of the suspense on any given episode is based on which fighters are going to be selected to fight. The exceptions are the last fights in any round of the competition, due to the fact that there are no other remaining fighters who could potentially be fighting.
The same could be said for the fight between Jorge Rivera and Patrick Cote on Episode Eight in the last of the middleweight quarter-finals, but Rivera hasn't been featured on the show anywhere near as much as Serra, and Cote hasn't had much screen time at all during the first six episodes.
The Episode Five fight between Pete Sell and Charles McCarthy did not provide the show with a noticeable increase in viewership. The Sell-McCarthy fight averaged a 1.3 rating over the course of the show's final 30 minutes, and the episode as a whole also averaged a 1.3 overall rating. This is the first time this season that the fight on any given episode did not average a higher rating than the entire episode on which it aired.
Liddell Gets Network TV Face Time, but the Added Exposure Might Not Last Much Longer
As previously reported by MMAWeekly, the September 19th episode of ABC's smash hit reality series Dancing with the Stars included contestant Willa Ford mentioning Chuck Liddell and the UFC by name, and a ten-second clip of Liddell was shown. That episode of the show drew a 12.1 overall rating. While this had a negligible impact on the ratings for the episode of TUF that aired two nights later, it does go a long way towards building up the UFC's brand awareness in general.
Liddell was also on the episode of Dancing with the Stars that aired on September 26th, although ratings for that episode are not yet available. Liddell was shown in the audience cheering on Ford and wearing a shirt that said, "Vote for Willa... Or Else." However, Liddell's name was not mentioned at any time during the episode.
If Willa Ford makes it to the final stages of the competition (as was expected going into the season) and if Liddell keeps attending the tapings in the "Willa Ford friends and family" section of the audience, there is no doubt that he will be mentioned by name once again and perhaps several more times before the season is over.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Ford is going to be on the show much longer, as she has consistently finished in the bottom three in fan voting and just barely avoided elimination in the first two weeks. Despite strong reviews from the show's panel of judges, as well as a personality-establishing love-hate relationship with her professional dance partner on the show, it has become clear that for whatever reason, she is not doing well in the fan voting.
If Ford is eliminated this week or shortly thereafter, it would cut off something that appeared to be a great opportunity for MMA to get a lot more exposure in the coming weeks on one of the most watched shows on television.
Head-to-Head Network Competition Shocks the Television Industry... How This Could Benefit TUF
Leading into the sixth episode of TUF 4, a repeat of UFC Unleashed aired from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM on September 21st and drew an overall rating of 1.0.
The results of the head-to-head ratings showdown that took place in the same timeslot sent shockwaves through the entire television industry, as the #1 show on television, CSI, was dethroned by the ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy.
New episodes of the two series went head-to-head for the first time on September 21st, at the same time that UFC Unleashed was airing on Spike TV. Shockingly, Grey's Anatomy won the battle rather handily, drawing a 15.7 overall rating for its season premiere, compared to a 13.5 overall rating for CSI's season premiere.
In the 2005-2006 TV season, new episodes of CSI ranged from a season-low of 14.4 to a season-high of 18.8, while new episodes of Grey's Anatomy in its normal weekly timeslot ranged from a season-low of 11.8 to a season-high of 15.4.
It remains to be seen whether Grey's Anatomy beating CSI head-to-head is a short-term thing, or whether ABC's big gamble will pay off throughout the season, but in any case, it can't have zero effect on the UFC's ratings when 30% of the entire country is watching one of two specific TV shows at the same time.
Due to the fact that Grey's Anatomy and CSI are airing every week at 9:00 PM (head-to-head with UFC Unleashed) and not at 10:00 PM (head-to-head with The Ultimate Fighter), this could actually benefit TUF's ratings due to the tens of millions of people throughout the country who are in front of their TVs at 10:00 PM on Thursday nights when Grey's Anatomy and CSI go off the air.
Based on the September 21st ratings, only two-thirds of these people are staying tuned to ABC/CBS, which means that in the precise timeframe that TUF is starting on any given week, a whopping ten percent of the entire country is either going to bed, turning off their TV, or changing the channel from ABC/CBS to something else.
If even a tiny percentage of the millions of people who are watching their TVs and changing the channel at 10:00 PM on Thursday nights happen to stumble upon TUF and keep watching it, that can only help the show.
This is exactly why airing in a timeslot that is near a mega-hit show (or two) is both a blessing and a curse for a TV show. It's a curse for the obvious reason that most people are watching the mega-hit show or shows, but it's also a blessing because of the sheer amount of "eyeballs" that are watching TV in that timeframe.
It's the same reason that when a mega-hit show like American Idol is airing on Fox and it goes off the air at 10:00 PM, the ratings for most of the shows on television that start airing at 10:00 PM are higher than usual. If a mega-hit show goes off the air at 9:00 PM, the ratings for most of the shows on television that start at 9:00 PM are higher than usual.
This same effect could potentially benefit TUF 4 as the season progresses, particularly if such a large percentage of the country continues to watch Grey's Anatomy and CSI in the hour before TUF every week.
Other Head-to-Head Network Ratings
Fortunately for The Ultimate Fighter and every other TV show that airs at 10:00 PM on Thursday nights, the network shows that aired at 10:00 PM were nowhere near as dominant as their 9:00 PM counterparts on September 21st.
While the new CBS drama Shark retained a respectable percentage of CSI's audience and thus drew a 9.8 overall rating in the 10:00 PM hour, that is still down drastically from the 13.8 overall rating that the season premiere of Without a Trace drew in the same timeslot in September 2005.
As for the new ABC drama Six Degrees, it lost a whopping 45% of the Grey's Anatomy audience in the 10:00 PM hour and thus drew a hugely disappointing overall rating of 8.7.
Winning the 10:00 PM timeslot was the season premiere of NBC's ER, which drew a 10.0 overall rating and will surely perform better in the ratings this season now that Without a Trace is no longer on Thursday nights to kick it around.
In addition to Grey's Anatomy and CSI, the other shows that aired head-to-head with UFC Unleashed in the 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM hour were new episodes of Deal or No Deal on NBC and Celebrity Duets on Fox.
Deal or No Deal drew a 6.5 overall rating, which was down from the 9.6 overall rating that the series drew three nights earlier in its season premiere, but it was about as good as could be expected up against Grey's Anatomy and CSI. Meanwhile, the ratings for Celebrity Duets fell off the face of the planet up against the new competition. The show drew a 2.4 overall rating, which is often grounds for immediate cancellation on network TV. In Celebrity Duets' case, it has been spared because it only has one week left anyway.
Airing immediately after The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV at 11:00 PM on September 21st, the pro wrestling show TNA Impact drew a 0.8 overall rating, which was up slightly from the previous week's 0.7 overall rating.