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UFC's Television Future

The announcement that Frank Mir and Antonio Nogueira will coach TUF 8 raises further questions about the UFC's television future.  Despite ever declining ratings on TV, the UFC is coming off one of its hottest periods ever, with UFC 79, 81, and 83 all doing huge numbers.  The second half of the year looks promising too, with Rampage/Forrest, GSP/Fitch, Lesnar/Coleman, more of BJ Penn, Chuck's return, and a possible Chuck/Rampage mega fight in December.  However, things can turn cold very fast, and the quickest way south is a disappearing TV presence.

The UFC's viewership numbers of late are actually below the Spike prime time average.  I fully expect them to drop a bit more this season, and even more next season, maybe down to the .8 range.  The current contract with Spike calls for a new Weekly fights show in 2010, but that may be too late.  If ratings keep dropping, they may need to introduce the new show in 2009.

The main point of weekly TV is simply to keep the public aware of what is going on in the UFC, and keep millions of eyes on the hype for upcoming shows.  TUF is starting to fail in that regard, and if Dana cannot pull off a network or HBO deal by the end of the year, they are going to need to change the Spike formula.  They were bold once a few years ago, and they need to be bold again.

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