The Ultimate Fighter Returns to Taped Format Next Season, but Stays on Fridays

Michael Chiesa TUF Live (Zuffa/Getty Images)

The UFC's flagship reality show The Ultimate Fighter will abandon its "jive live" format in favor of its previous incarnation as an all-taped show when it returns for its next season.

UFC president Dana White confirmed the news to Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday night, following a season of declining ratings on new cable outlet FX.

According to television sources, the most recent season of TUF drew an average of just over 1 million viewers per episode, a number fairly significantly below the 1.5 million that tuned into the final season broadcast on Spike in 2011.

The "jive-live" format presented taped segments showing the fighter's daily lives and training, leading into a weekly fight, which was aired live from Las Vegas. It had been hoped that producing the weekly fights live would help retain the show's longtime audience and make the show DVR-proof.

However after a good opening with almost 1.3 million viewers tuning into the season premiere episode, ratings settled a bit lower than that as the season wore on. According to FX, however, its year-over-year key demographics were up significantly with TUF airing in the Friday slot.

The Friday night airings affected ratings, according to White, who during a recent group media interview, noted that the swiftness of the UFC-FOX deal left both sides scrambling to put together a schedule. Because FX's 2012 schedule had already been set before that, they were left with Fridays as an air date, a night he admitted was not ideal due to the sport's fairly young demographic.

The next season of the show, which will begin in September, will also air on Fridays. It will feature welterweights, as well as the longtime format that originally made it a hit on Spike.

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