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Friday, May 04, 2007
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC 70 Draws Strong Ratings on Spike TV
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

On the same week in which the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter continued its ratings collapse with the lowest-rated episode to date, UFC 70 drew a strong overall rating of 1.8 on Spike TV.

The three-hour, tape-delayed broadcast of UFC 70 on April 21st was the fifth-highest-rated UFC broadcast out of the fourteen UFC fight specials that have aired on Spike TV since the beginning of 2005. Five nights later, the latest episode of The Ultimate Fighter 5 drew an overall rating of 1.0.

UFC 70's Ratings vs. UFC's Previous Ratings
Compared to the UFC's average-to-date for fight specials headed into this event, UFC 70 showed increases across the board. The UFC's average-to-date for its previous fourteen fight specials was a 1.7 overall rating, and UFC 70 drew a 1.8 overall rating.

In the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, the UFC's average-to-date was a 2.8 rating, and UFC 70 rating in this demographic was 3.2.

In the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, the UFC's average-to-date was a 2.2 rating, and UFC 70 rating in this demographic was 2.6.

The high ratings for UFC 70 came just sixteen days after the disappointing ratings for UFC Fight Night 9 on Spike TV, which makes UFC 70's viewership all the more impressive by comparison.

The overall rating of 1.8 for UFC 70 is significantly higher than the 1.2 overall rating that was drawn by UFC Fight Night 9, and is only surpassed in the UFC's history on Spike TV by TUF 1's live finale (1.9), TUF 2's live finale (2.0), TUF 3's live finale (2.0), and The Final Chapter with Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock (3.1).

In the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, UFC 70's rating of 3.2 was literally double UFC Fight Night 9's rating of 1.6. The only UFC fight specials to have ever drawn higher ratings in this demographic were TUF 1's finale (3.3), TUF 2's finale (3.7), TUF 3's finale (3.8), and The Final Chapter (6.0).

In the broader demographic of 18-to-49-year-old males, UFC 70's rating of 2.6 was significantly higher than UFC Fight Night 9's rating of 1.5, and higher than any UFC fight special to have ever aired on Spike TV other than TUF 1's finale (2.7), TUF 2's finale (2.7), TUF 3's finale (2.9), and The Final Chapter (4.5).

Ratings for Each Specific Fight
The UFC 70 broadcast started off with the fight between Cheick Kongo and Assuerio Silva, and that particular fight drew a 1.7 rating, which is a good rating for the traditionally low-rated first fight of the broadcast.

After a 17-minute gap, the preliminary fight between Terry Etim and Matt Grice started airing. Etim vs. Grice drew a 1.9 rating, which is an impressive rating for a match-up of two fighters who were making their UFC debuts.

Following a 27-minute gap in between fights, the fight between Michael Bisping and Elvis Sinosic started airing. Surprisingly, this fight did not build on the previous fight's rating, as it also drew a 1.9 rating. The last time there was a "live" Bisping fight on Spike TV, his TUF 3 finale match-up against Josh Haynes drew a much higher 2.5 rating.

After a 24-minute gap, the fight between Andrei Arlovski and Fabricio Werdum started airing. Even though it was not the most thrilling of fights, Arlovski vs. Werdum drew a strong 2.2 rating. This was the first time in over six months (since October 10, 2006) that any fight on any UFC broadcast drew a rating of 2.0 or higher.

Twenty-five minutes later, the main event bout of Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Mirko Cro Cop started airing, and this fight also drew an impressive 2.2 rating.

The aforementioned long gaps in between fights drew lower ratings than the fights themselves, which is why the three-hour broadcast's overall average rating was 1.8.

Although it was hyped at the beginning of the show, the fight between Ryoto Machida and David Heath did not air on Spike TV, nor were any highlights or explanations offered to viewers.

In addition, the entire UFC 70 broadcast was inaccurately billed as live, as the words "Spike TV LIVE" were displayed in the corner of the screen at all times, despite the fact that no portion of the broadcast was actually live. It was not live-to-tape either, as there were numerous post-production voice-overs leading into and out of commercial breaks, the Etim-Grice fight was inserted after the Kongo-Silva fight as if it were also live, and the Machida-Heath fight was edited out entirely.

UFC 70 vs. NASCAR vs. Major League Baseball vs. NBA
UFC 70 on Spike TV out-drew the NBA, Major League Baseball, and NASCAR on Saturday, April 21st in the UFC's strongest demographic, as there were 885,000 males between the ages of 18 and 34 who watched UFC 70.

In terms of overall viewership, UFC 70 drew 2.8 million viewers. On the same weekend, a Saturday night NASCAR race on Fox drew 7.6 million viewers; Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN drew 5.5 million viewers; Saturday afternoon baseball on Fox drew 4.7 million viewers; and a first-round NBA Playoffs game on Sunday afternoon drew 4.3 million viewers.

The first-round NBA Playoffs game that aired on ESPN head-to-head with UFC 70 barely out-drew UFC 70 in overall viewership, with a 2.0 overall rating compared to UFC 70's overall rating of 1.8. Ratings for the NBA in general are down drastically from what they were ten years ago for Michael Jordan's sixth and final championship season.

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