The first season of The Ultimate Fighter on FX, which used a live format for the weekly fights, is hard to call a success. While Dana White has attempted to spin the ratings to sound better when talking about the decline from previous seasons on Spike TV, and there certainly is something to the show being put on Fridays having an effect.
But it does look like they've decided that they need to give up on the live format. Via Yahoo! Sports:
Though UFC president Dana White said he loves the live version of "The Ultimate Fighter," the reality series will return to a taped format for its next season, he told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday.
...for the first time ever, the fights were live instead of taped. That led to some time overruns and an inability to develop story lines introducing the audience to the fighters.
The show will remain on Friday at 10 p.m. ET on FX, though White said if "this next season isn't up to the standards I expect, they promised me we can move it to Tuesday or Wednesday." He said casting for Season 16 would begin in three weeks and will debut in September. Season 2 on FX will feature welterweight fighters.
The problem isn't with the ratings being down from the Spike seasons. It's really with the steady decline over the season.
Episode one drew 1.3 million viewers, that number went down to 1.2-1.1 for a few episodes and then dropped down to roughly 950k for episodes eight through ten. Episode eleven saw the worst single episode rating in TUF history, drawing only 821,000 viewers, rebounding to 875,000 for episode twelve.
Moving to Friday would have dented ratings for any show given that it's a dead spot for television but, again, it's that there was no increase in viewers as the show moved toward the finale and they actually lost viewers at a pretty steady clip. The finale also only drew 1 million viewers.
While the reality TV portion of the show isn't something I'm particularly interested in, it makes sense that they're going to try to focus more on telling the fighters' stories in hopes that it leads to more viewer investment. Of course, the story of Mike Chiesa was told quite well this season and he was around every week of the show without having much impact on the ratings.
Dana did say that if the ratings aren't up to "his standard" he has been told that they can move the show to a different day.