TUF 17 debut does well, but ratings still far from its days on Spike


The Ultimate Fighter 17 is off to a good start. Not great, but good. In its two-hour premiere, the episode drew over 1.5 million viewers, which is more than any other episode that has ever aired on FX. Like I said, a good start.

But why not great? Well, although viewership has certainly increased significantly since last season, the debut still didn’t happen to attain the kind of numbers that its previous iterations did when they were broadcasted on Spike.

It’s difficult to say what has been causing the ratings to dip and now climb, but the biggest factor seems to be network. Although the UFC stands by FX’s availability throughout the US, fans have been singing a different tune, claiming to have a difficulty finding the show, not knowing whether they have the channel and so on. Although, even if FX were broadcasted in every home without fail, I still believe that The Ultimate Fighter would not be seeing equivalent numbers to those they witnessed with Spike. Reason?

I believe that many of TUF’s viewers happened to be loyal Spike viewers who continued to view Spikes programming regardless of the show. Being aired around testosterone-fueled, male-biased shows like “A Thousand Ways To Die” and “Deadliest Warrior” – two programs that are obviously geared towards the UFC’s target 18-34 male demographic – was obviously a huge advantage for the UFC.

Not to mention the fact that the UFC had previously spent years building up its brand while creating a new reality show that over time became synonymous with the network it was aired on. When you change that dynamic, whether directly or indirectly you ultimately end up forcing people into having to think and putting in some sort of effort to find where your show is located exactly.

So with that said, is it a surprise to anyone that the show has seen better days? Wouldn’t it be kind of naïve or even ignorant to think that the same people who just want to sit down to enjoy some TV, would go out of their way just to figure out that The Ultimate Fighter is now on a new network, on a separate channel, on a different day, at a new time?

That doesn’t exactly make the show user friendly. In fact the only people I could see putting in the work to find the show are extreme fans. But when you make a change that drastic you basically alienate and lose all of your casual viewers, which I’m afraid Spike had much more of than FX.

Either way, this season is shaping up to be one of the best yet, as one of the viewers who can be thrown into the hardcore fan category, I’ll be watching with extreme anticipation.

  • Possibly because Spike is better known?

    • Guess you didn't read anything, cuz you're comment was the entire point of the article.

      • FX is def geared to adults nip tuck, son of anarchy, the fire fighter show with dennis leary

  • That premier of the Ultimate fighter was the worst I've seen yet. The production was horrible. Listening to 5 minute sob stories from every fighter before they fight, close up's on fighters faces for every interview. Absolutley shameful this show is supposed to be about mixed martial arts and professional fighting. I have never seen either but this is what I would expect from watching the bachelor or big brother. I was actually impressed with some of the fighters but the horrible over-production made me sick and made the show hard to watch I literally had to mute the tv at times. I sure hope this shit gets better as the show goes on.

    • i was definately disapointed with the new episode of TUF, the only thing we expect to see is fights and they somehow messed that up with distracting slow motion, cutting out of the fight to show you family members every fight, lame backround music and they only showed like 2 whole fights . their trying to change the program into another one of those mind numbing reality shows to expand on fans but to me it feels like they are losing their biggest fan base that just want to watch some fights. can you imagine if this production was in a ufc event, just telling a sad scripted 5 minute story to the camera before the fight , and then giving 20 seconds for performance highlights

    • Well the point was to show how hard the sport is. For example the guy doesn't have any money, and put anything on the line and bang! He was out! Or they got their family watched while they being KO'ed. Could you imagine the situation to yourself. I bet thats sucks.
      Maybe because of tuf in time fans will start respect the losers.

      • I understand that its a tough life for any fighter … but when weve had a rough day we come home to watch the ultimate fighter for mma, not for this whole x factor approach that its having. the sob stories wouldnt be bad if they were halfway through the season when fighters open up but not at the 2 hour special. if it carries on they should name it " the tuf factor"

  • Interesting. I thought this was the best production yet. I liked finding out more about the back stories…. I didn't think they went over the top but a couple of minutes sharing a little about the fighters didn't bother me. The fight coverage was topnotch IMO. Compared the last two seasons, I like the way the show is headed.

    The guy originally from Jamaica… living in NY…. I'm thinking he is the one Dana mentioned no one wanted to fight? Going to be an interesting show… I dig it.


  • I still don't think they have it dialed in. The addition of families and the same story from everyone…I'm doing it for my family, I'm broke, I can't find a job, I've been doing it since I was a child, It's all about my kids, I came from a broken home, It's always been my dream…everyone has a story. And as sorry as any one story might be, it certainly can't mitigate or displace another sorry story.

    The real problem here from an audience point is, that you as a viewer you are introduced to a whack of guys you've never seen before, half-of-whom will not advance into the house, told their sorrowful story and then, let's have a fight. There's no bonding with the fighter and unless you're a real MMA aficionado, of which I am not, you have no idea of who to pull for or what to expect, in the way of a match. We literally know nothing of these fighters. Basically, the viewer ends up with (about) the same emotional connection to these fighters, as they would if they hoped on YouTube and watched a bunch of "caught-on-tape" fights. You just really don't care who wins.

    I would much rather they simply cut the cast down to the top 4 prospects and have them fight it out at the end of the season and spend the entirety of the season focusing on their training and building some kind of a story line. As there would be no need for secrecy with regard to fight outcomes, they could be much more flexible with the show and what the fighters can get up to. Inclusive of bringing in some kind of a female component into the house, to spice up the show and maybe create some drama.

    One thing I think we were all hoping for was legitimate tension between Jones and Sonnen. Unfortunately, I don't think we're going to get it. And if we are not getting it, one almost has to ask the question, why was Sonnen brought on this show?

    No TUF lacks a story-line and oddly enough, too much emphasis on a tournament style show. Cut the cast down, bring in a few hot women trying out to be the next "ring-girl", maybe allow them to bring a wife or GF into the house, build the show around two fights at the end of the season and maybe change up the location(s), too. Vegas isn't exactly the most scenic place in the world, after all. And here's a thought that might draw an audience, bring in a guy like a Steven Segal to teach specialized weapons training. The man is a master of the bow, sword, knife and gun. I'd find it interesting. I've certainly watched his stuff with Silva and Machida, as most of us have. Dana would probably never allow it, but it's a thought at any rate.

    At the end-of-the day there's a great deal more that could be done with the show, than is currently being done and they certainly need to find a way to grow / add a female audience.

    Either way, the show needs something, perhaps it's more Cow Bell.

    • anyone else skip posts this long?

      • @ Too High

        Yes, they do. They just don't stop to comment about it. Hence, the term "skip".

        Anyway, thank you for not skipping my post and thank you for taking the time to comment. I always appreciate hearing from a reader. 🙂

        • Sorry but I didnt read it man, thats why I posted that.

          • ..but your point was that you skipped it, which you did not and now you're engaged in a discussion about not skipping it.

            And your point about it being too long, is lost on me when I've read some of your post and the responses to them, which can be rather lengthy. It's why I've commented, negatively so, on a few of your post and the responses to them. For what you are complaining here, you're guilty of on other threads.
            Do you get that?

            Just out of curiosity, could you tell me, exactly, what the word count length is before something becomes too long and do you give yourself and any respondents to your comments, special waivers, should they exceed the word limit?

            As to whether or not you read the post, I truly do not care. Read it, don't read it. It wasn't written for you or to please you. I wrote it to please myself and anyone who may wish to spend the 60 seconds required to read it.

          • damn you love writing dont you

  • I was a bit bored by the first episode…I just want to see guys fight. They turned the first episode into a soap opera with guys talking about how they were born with one testicle..

    i would rather TUF focus on fighters highlight reels rather than seeing them pat a family dog and talk about their girlfriends etc.

    • Ha! Ha!

    • lets get some real drama like fighter a slept with fighter b's girlfriend and they have to fight each other to get into the house

  • It's probably because most people, including me, hate Fox.

  • It could be because SPIKE is Better known in connection to the UFC, which is a maybe now since were over a year since they have begun their relationship. However, FX has by far the better viewership overall so you'd think that would cancel anything else out.

    It could also have to do with the Publics losing passion for the show. The ratings were declining mostly even when it was on SPIKE.

    This could definitely increase though. Most social media blew up about the show afterwards, so I wouldn't be surprised if viewership grew to 2 mill after a couple shows.

  • This looked like it was trying to copy HBOs NHL 24/7 with the interview styles and the way the episode was set up.
    And Jones and Sonnen are super chummy. I miss seasons like where Koscheck looks like an idiot over and over not being able to rattle GSP.