There's some good ratings news for the UFC as last week's edition of The Ultimate Fighter broke the one million viewer mark, something no other episode this season without the benefit of a live lead-in fight card has been able to do.
TUF pulled in 1,100,000 viewers following a UFC on FX card for the fourth episode of the season but saw those numbers plummet to 624,000 the next week, then bounce to 811,000 and then drop back to 676,000. Now, with the newest rating, the numbers are up again.
Dave Meltzer gives a little info on the ratings over at MMA Fighting:
Ultimate Fighter drew 1,061,000 viewers on Friday night, up a whopping 57 percent from the Oct. 26 show. While every demographic increased significantly, the biggest gains were among women, as Women 18-34 doubled the previous week and Women 18-49 were up 90 percent. The Male 18-34 target demo did a 0.95, up 58 percent from the previous week. The show placed third in its time slot in both Males 18-34 and 18-49.
There is no obvious explanation for such a huge gain, past the commercials played during the week must have intrigued enough people who haven't been viewing the show regularly this season. The show was the most talked about episode after the fact, between the drunken antics of Julian Hall attempting to get into a fight, Dana White criticizing the fighters for not putting on exciting fights, and the coach's challenge, a track and field decathlon of sorts between Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin. But except for commercial clips, people wouldn't know the content of the show ahead of time.
The constant viewership yo-yo is a good reminder that simply looking at "season average" is not a particularly valid metric for looking at "how the show is doing." There have not been 2 consecutive weeks this season where the number of viewers has gone up, and the volatility of the ratings don't really allow for the reduction to a mean number of any significance.
I've discussed it before, but I find ratings info fascinating, which is why I've talked about this in past weeks with TV and ad sales executives. And generally the statements that they offer are that it's a big issue to have no stability in your ratings because it's a harder sell to premium advertisers. 35-55% gains and losses mean you're selling on the lower end.
If TUF can ride out the rest of the season with numbers between 850k to 1m, that'd be a good sign. But obviously this is a season where it's more "whatever happens, happens" with the move to a better weeknight for the show and Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen in the coaching roles next time around.
Oddly enough, a strange meme like "let me bang, bro" could sustain some buzz for the show and possibly position it better for the move and next "big season."
Unfortunately, it's also a reminder that TUF's attention is almost never because of the fights and almost always because of the worst moments of human behavior.