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Saturday, April 28, 2007
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ratings for Ultimate Fighter 5 Continue to Decline in Week Three
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

Episode Three of The Ultimate Fighter 5 drew an overall rating of 1.2 on Thursday, April 19th. There has been a downward trend since the beginning of this season, as Episode One drew a 1.4 overall rating, Episode Two drew a 1.3 overall rating, and Episode Three drew a 1.2 overall rating.

A week's worth of commercials on Spike TV hyping that Episode Three would contain one of the best fights in the history of The Ultimate Fighter was apparently not enough to entice more viewers to tune into the show. The actual fight between Nate Diaz and Robert Emerson drew a 1.3 rating, making it the least-watched fight of this season to date.

In addition to the overall rating decreasing from the previous week, Episode Three of TUF 5 also saw decreases in the demographics most coveted by advertisers. In the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, Episode 3 drew a 1.7 rating, down from the previous week's mark of 2.0. In the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, Episode Three drew a 1.5 rating, down from the previous week's mark of 1.7. It was still the highest-rated show of the day on cable television in the latter demographic.

An overall rating of 1.2 is still an excellent rating for cable, but it's not significantly above Spike TV's primetime average of 1.0. More importantly, it is significantly lower than the overall rating that the show's sponsors were told to expect, as the Wrestling Observer has reported that advertisers were told to expect a 1.7 overall rating for the season premiere. If the overall ratings of TUF 5 were to sink any lower than 1.0, the series would actually be dragging down Spike TV's primetime average at that point, but it seems unlikely that the ratings will decrease to that extent in the coming weeks.

At this point, if TUF 5's ratings hold steady at this level or increase in the upcoming weeks, it may or may not end up being the lowest-rated season of TUF to date. However, the numbers are now at a point where if the ratings decrease any further in the upcoming weeks, TUF 5 will beat out TUF 4 as the lowest-rated season of TUF to date.

The fourth season of TUF averaged a 1.2 overall rating, compared to 1.7 for TUF 3, and 1.2 for Episode Three of the current season.

The Ultimate Fighter 4 averaged a 2.0 rating in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, compared to 2.9 for TUF 3, and 1.7 for Episode Three of the current season.

The fourth season of TUF averaged a 1.6 rating in the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, compared to 2.2 for TUF 3, and 1.5 for Episode Three of the current season.

Episode Three of TUF 5 was almost out-drawn by its pro wrestling lead-in, TNA Impact, which has had stagnant ratings for several months. The episode of TNA Impact that aired on April 12th at 9:00 PM drew a 1.1 overall rating, just 0.1 lower than TUF's 1.2 overall rating. However, the demographic ratings aren't even close, as TNA drew a 0.9 in the two demographics most coveted by advertisers, compared to 1.7 and 1.5 for TUF.

Even the sinking ratings of TUF are still higher than the highest ratings that the IFL has drawn on MyNetworkTV. The most-watched episodes of IFL Battleground have averaged 1.1 million viewers, while Episode 3 of TUF 5 averaged 1.6 million viewers.

Airing head-to-head on network television with Episode 3 of The Ultimate Fighter 5 on Thursday, April 12th, the CBS drama "Shark" came out on top in the 10:00 PM hour. A new episode of "Shark" drew an 8.5 overall rating, once again beating out a new episode of NBC's "ER," which drew a 6.1 overall rating.

For the first time in the history of "ER" on Thursday nights, a new episode of the series actually came in third place in its timeslot, losing not only to "Shark" but also to ABC's "October Road," which drew a 6.7 overall rating. Though "ER" was already renewed through May 2008 about two years ago, it's hard to imagine the series continuing past that point.

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