Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
After declining ratings this past year, FX will be moving The Ultimate Fighter reality show back to Wednesday nights, where the show aired for many years on Spike TV.
The show moving to a better night was announced by FX Executive Vice President Chuck Saftler back in October. Malki Kawa, the manager of Jones, said the move would be to Wednesday in an interview with The Fight Network. Subsequently, MMAFighting.com confirmed the new date with Dana White.
In doing so, the show is moving back to the night it ran on Spike for many years. The show moved to Fridays at the start of 2012, with the move from Spike TV to FX. Even though moving to a significantly higher rated network, and having the fights air live for the first time in the show's history, ratings fell to the lowest level in the show's history.
A move back to taping the shows and concentrating more on storylines this current season led to ratings declining even more. Numbers have shown a significant increase the past two weeks, but they are below the level of the lowest-rated shows on Wednesdays on Spike.
Ultimate Fighter debuted in 2005 on Monday nights, following the highly-rated WWE Monday Night Raw show on Spike. The show was an instant hit to the Male 18-34 audience of wrestling fans who stayed to watch UFC. People like Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin became major pay-per-view drawing cards off the initial season, which also produced enduring stars like Chris Leben, Josh Koscheck, Stephan Bonnar, Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez..
After Raw left Spike, Ultimate Fighter was first moved to Thursday, because the show was so highly rated but the original Monday shows didn't air in prime time, thus weren't helping Spike's prime time ratings average. When the NFL Network started broadcasting games on Thursdays, TUF ratings took a major hit and Spike moved the show to Wednesday, where the number rebounded. The show remained in the Wednesday at 10 P.M. time slot through the end of 2011.
Safler, in October, made a veiled threat at Spike TV, indicating they were looking at going to war with them next year when Spike begins broadcasting Bellator programming. It is believed Spike will air two Bellator first-run shows, the weekly fights as well as a reality show. The night of the week has yet to be announced for either show. With the fight show starting in January, the announcement is expected to be imminent.
Bellator has been running on Friday nights after moving from Saturdays in 2011.
Both nights are problematic for an MMA show, which is why expectations are that Spike will also be moving the weekly fight show. Saturday is tough because UFC runs its pay-per-view shows on Saturday nights, as well as FOX shows and a lot of other live shows. Plus it has to compete with HBO and Showtime boxing events.
Friday has proven to be a bad night for MMA programming since it appeals to heavily to Males 25-40, an age group that isn't traditionally watching much television that night. Plus, Bellator has going head-to-head with the established WWE Smackdown, which has a strong appeal to male viewers in the same age group that watches MMA.
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