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Saturday, May 12, 2007
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ultimate Fighter Ratings Rebound Slightly, Still Below Previous Seasons
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

The fifth episode of The Ultimate Fighter drew a 1.1 overall rating on Thursday, May 3rd. The show's overall rating rebounded slightly from the previous week's all-time series low rating of 1.0.

Through the first five episodes of the season, The Ultimate Fighter 5 has drawn an overall rating of 1.4 for the season premiere, followed by overall ratings 1.3, 1.2, 1.0, and 1.1.

Just as importantly, Episode Five was up significantly in the advertiser-coveted demographics when compared to Episode Four. In the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, Episode Four drew a 1.1 rating, and Episode Five drew a 1.5 rating. In the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, the increase was less pronounced, but still notable, as Episode Four drew a 1.1 rating and Episode Five drew a 1.3 rating.

Weight-Cutting Focus & Lack of Fight May Have Pushed Away Some Viewers
Despite the increase in overall viewership, the trend in the quarter-hour ratings would seem to indicate that some viewers were not satisfied with the content of the episode, which did not feature a fight and instead focused on Gabe Ruediger's struggles to make the 155-pound weight limit.

The viewership level of any given episode normally stays the same or increases as the show progresses, but the viewership level for this episode actually decreased at one point. The second quarter-hour drew a 1.2 rating, and the third quarter-hour drew a 1.1 rating.

Even with all of TUF 5's ratings struggles, this is the first time all season long that the viewership level has actually decreased from one quarter-hour to the next enough to cause the rating to change when rounded to the nearest tenth of a ratings point.

This was actually the first time that such a decrease has taken place during an Ultimate Fighter episode since Episode Four of TUF 4

The final 15 episodes of the episode drew a 1.2 overall rating, which is the second-lowest mark of the season for an episode's final quarter-hour. The episode that featured Brandon Melendez' fight against Andy Wang drew a 1.1 rating in its last 15 minutes.

TUF 5's Ratings Through Five Episodes Compared to Previous TUF Ratings
Over the course of its first five episodes, the fifth season of TUF has averaged a 1.2 overall rating. At the same point in each of the previous TUF seasons (five episodes in), the first season was averaging a 1.5 overall rating, the second season was averaging a 1.6 overall rating, the third season was averaging a 1.7 overall rating, and the fourth season was averaging a 1.4 overall rating.

In the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, which is where the majority of the UFC's fan base is located and is also Spike TV's target audience, the fifth season of TUF has averaged a 1.6 rating through its first five episodes. This is much more of a drastic drop-off than is the case in the overall ratings. At the same point in previous seasons in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, the first season was averaging a 1.9 rating, the second season was averaging a 2.6 rating, the third season was averaging a 3.0 rating, and the fourth season was averaging a 2.3 rating.

Head-to-Head Network Competition
A new episode of the pro wrestling show "TNA Impact" aired at 9:00 PM on May 3rd as the lead-in for TUF 5, and it drew a 1.0 overall rating. The ratings for "Impact" have struggled ever since TNA co-owner and head writer Jeff Jarrett booked himself to return to action in a prominent role.

Airing head-to-head on network television with Episode 5 of The Ultimate Fighter 5 on Thursday, May 3rd, the second half of a two-hour "Grey's Anatomy" on ABC drew a massive 13.4 overall rating. Meanwhile, the season finale of "Shark" on CBS drew an 8.3 overall rating, and a new episode of "ER" on NBC drew a comparatively paltry 5.3 overall rating.

Just a couple of weeks ago, when a new episode of "ER" came in third place in its timeslot, it was a highly unusual occurrence. Now, it almost seems commonplace, and the show is not even coming in a close third place. Fox does not air national programming in the 10:00 PM hour.

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