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The Ultimate Fighter 13 Debut Pulls Low Ratings Despite Brock Lesnar

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Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

The first episode of The Ultimate Fighter 13 pulled in what can only be described as disappointing ratings. Yesterday I wrote about the numbers pulled by debut episodes by season to set expectations for the new season, featuring star coach Brock Lesnar. For reference, here are the numbers for the prior seasons:

Season 1 - 1.42
Season 2 - 1.8
Season 3- 1.95
Season 4 - 1.7
Season 5 - 1.4
Season 6 - 1.5
Season 7 - 1.3
Season 8 - 1.2
Season 9 - 1.34
Season 10 - 2.9
Season 11 - 1.5
Season 12 - 1.3

Now, from MMA Junkie comes word of the newest rankings (emphasis mine):

The season debut of "The Ultimate Fighter 13: Team Lesnar vs. Team Dos Santos" scored a 1.0 household rating and 1.5 million viewers.

...

Despite the slight drop-off, an additional 633,000 viewers did tune in for an immediate replay of the program.

Some will suggest viewers tuned in at 10 p.m. rather than the new start time, but that can't fully account for the low mark. This was the worst debut episode rating in series history.

It's possible Lesnar has lost steam after two less than stellar performances and the "Lesnar specific fans" may also simply not care to tune in to watch him work with a crop of middle-of-the-road talent. It's also hard to imagine the ratings increasing dramatically given a pretty bland debut episode. Lesnar and rival coach Junior dos Santos didn't clash, the first fight was pretty lacking and no one stood out as a "must-see" personality.

TUF has a format dependent on a significant catch, and these ratings make it pretty clear that Brock Lesnar doesn't fill that need.