The Ultimate Fighter reality show is into its 16th season and is currently airing on the FX channel on Friday nights. This is the second season of TUF on FX after the first 14 seasons aired on Spike TV.
The ratings for the show have suffered since making the move over to FX for a variety of reasons.There was the change in networks from Spike to FX, the change from Wednesday nights to Friday nights, and just the same old formula being used over and over to produce the show.
The UFC brass decided to switch things up on their first season on FX and went with a LIVE format which was totally different from the pre-taped heavily edited version that aired on Spike TV all of the previous years. Almost all of the footage was live including the fights that aired each Friday night, but the change did little to influence ratings. This second season on FX saw the UFC return to the pre-taped edited version of The Ultimate Fighter and the ratings have continued to be lower than expected. If you thought that was going to signal an end to the show, UFC President Dana White put those thoughts to rest while speaking with FUEL TV’s Ariel Helwani on “UFC Tonight”:
“No, it’s not a make or break year. There are some things that we all did wrong. And we need to fix them. It’s all part of running a business. The thing about us is we’re not afraid of taking risks. If we were, we wouldn’t be sitting here right now. This whole business has been a risk since day one.”
Some of the risk he’s probably talking about is the change in networks as well as the change in which the show airs. It’s common knowledge that TV ratings on Friday nights are pretty much abysmal, yet the UFC and FOX still decided to air the show on that night despite a history of success for on Wednesday nights. Also, the TUF Live format was totally different than the pre-taped format we are seeing on the current season. While it was an idea that generated some initial excitement, the show just didn’t know deliver ratings wise. However, White isn’t ruling out vamping the live format and giving it another shot:
“There are a lot of the things we’re working on. Obviously we’re working on ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ We gave it a shot doing ‘TUF Live.’ What we found out is people actually do like the reality and want to see more of what went on in the house that week, which is almost impossible to do leading up into a live fight. We’re bringing back ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ ‘TUF Live’ isn’t dead. I’d like to give it another shot.
Obviously we’re working on ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ We gave it a shot doing ‘TUF Live.’ What we found out is people actually do like the reality and want to see more of what went on in the house that week, which is almost impossible to do leading up into a live fight. We’re bringing back ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ ‘TUF Live’ isn’t dead. I’d like to give it another shot.”
We’ll see what the future holds, but I’m not sure the reality show will ever be able to recapture the audience that it had in the early years. One idea that hardcore fans have talked about for a while is a TUF for women. White has already openly stated that he would love to bring Strikeforce women’s champion Ronda Rousey to the UFC. Rousey as a coach on the show opposite of Cyborg Santos would breath instant life into the project while putting the spotlight on women’s MMA to develop new talent.
How would you feel about a TUF for women?