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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.

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