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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.

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