After being on Spike since 05, the UFC switching The Ultimate Fighter, the Primetime series, the bulk of their Fight Night and Prelim Specials to FX was always going to result in a bit of growing pains. Most people were aware that although FX is in roughly the same number of households as Spike(maybe a bit more depending on where you look) that it is certainly a stronger channel in terms of overall viewership. That theory seems to be panning out quite well for the UFC as the ratings have been steadily increasing for each new event.
We'll start with the date, then the event, and then the average amount of viewers the event drew. The events will be order chronologically so that the evolution of the ratings can be seen more clearly.
- January 14th - UFC 142 Prelims - 880 thousand
- January 20th - UFC on FX 1 - 1.3 million
- February 4th - UFC 143 Prelims - 1.4 million
- February 26th - UFC 144 Prelims - 1.5 million
- March 3rd - UFC on FX 2 - 1.4 million
- April 21st - UFC 145 Prelims - 1.6 million
Now, if we were only 3 events into the FX events...you could possibly argue that the ratings increases are just results of circumstance. Trends are best indicated over the longest period of time available. Well, this is 6 events in...and I think it's safe to say we are looking at a trend. In terms of all of the events, the ratings only dipped slightly one time from one to the next. But aside from that, the average continues to go up.
Additionally, if you want to separate the Prelims Specials from the FX cards, you get the same pattern of increasing ratings. There have only been two FX cards though...so that isn't a fair indicator of much.
The ratings for the 'Primetime' series are seeing an uptick as well. The UFC 143 Primetime specials averaged 540 thousand viewers across the 3 episodes, while the 145 Primetimes averaged 560 thousand viewers. That isn't a huge jump in average ratings...but the growth across the 3 145 episodes is fairly promising. The first episode averaged 462 thousand viewers, the 2nd climbed to 573 thousand, and the finale reached 646 thousand.
Meanwhile, this season is pulling what I believe are the lowest TUF ratings ever. I think the takeaway here is that TUF, being in it's 15th season and now showing on Friday nights is simply an aging show struggling to succeed despite the growing audience for the UFC on it's new channel. It's certainly much more of a statement on the show than the promotion or the channel. But that's a story for another fanpost.
As it is, the UFC continues to find it's own crowd on FX, and that crowd seems to be streadily increasing. As the cards on 'Big Fox' keep coming, I believe more new viewers will be directed to the new home for the UFC on cable.