Strong positives in TUF ratings for first two episodes

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

There was a lot of positive news when it came to ratings of The Ultimate Fighter reality show this week.

Viewership of Wednesday night's second episode of the show, featuring Julianna Pena's upset win over Shayna Baszler, increased 14 percent over last week to 870,000 viewers. It was the third most-watched television show in the history of the nearly one-month-old Fox Sports 1. It was also the highest-rated show of any kind, since the launch date, trailing only the prelim coverage and main card coverage of the Aug. 17 UFC event from Boston.

It was the largest increase of a first episode of the season to a second episode in the 18-season history of the show. Only four previous seasons has the second episode had more viewers than the first, almost all in the early days of the show. Some of the gain was due to significant promotion of the show during FOX's NFL telecasts on Sunday. Other was likely positive word-of-mouth coming from the first episode.

Ultimate Fighter won its time slot in the key male demos among all the cable sports networks.

Other positive news for the show is that the DVR viewership of the first episode show was approximately 244,000 added viewers between Friday and Sunday, an increase of 32 percent from the live showing. That's, on a percentage basis, about double usual Live plus three DVR growth levels.

If you factor in DVR usage, the first episode would top 1 million viewers.

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