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For Spike, 'The Ultimate Fighter' Gets Better Ratings Than UFC Fight Night

I found this a bit surprising, and illustrative of just how important the reality TV show The Ultimate Fighter is to UFC's popularity.

UFC Fight Night 13, which was a tremendous card of live fights in the Octagon (shown on tape delay in the Pacific time zone), got solid ratings Wednesday night for Spike TV, with a 1.1 rating and an average audience of 1.3 million viewers. But those solid ratings were topped by the show that immediately followed Fight Night: The Ultimate Fighter, which debuted its seventh season with a 1.3 rating and average audience of 1.7 million viewers.

I can't imagine that, say, a reality show about players trying out for the NFL or the NBA or Major League Baseball would ever top actual live games in TV ratings, but that's exactly what happens with UFC on Spike. The Ultimate Fighter has become a phenomenon, to such an extent that some people would rather watch the amateurs trying out to fight than the pros actually fighting.

There are various caveats: Fight Night started earlier in the evening, when some people aren't home from work. If the Fight Night card had included a title fight, or a fight featuring one of the UFC's marquee names like Chuck Liddell or Tito Ortiz, it's fair to assume that Fight Night would have out-performed The Ultimate Fighter.

I much prefer watching live fights to watching The Ultimate Fighter, and in the long run, I think UFC will be better off if those live fights get more viewers than the reality show. But for now, both UFC and Spike have to be pretty happy with those ratings.

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