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Ratings report: Nearly three million watch debut episode of TUF 20

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

In various incarnations over the past week, nearly three million viewers watched the first episode of The Ultimate Fighter reality show.

The key to the number was FOX putting an encore version of the show, which is built around a tournament to crown the first UFC women's strawweight champion (115 pounds). While it didn't air in every market, where it did air was either before or after FOX's Sunday NFL broadcasts. The show delivered 1,735,000 viewers in that time slot.

The actual debut on FS 1 on Sept. 10, did 536,000 viewers live, which was the lowest debut in the show's history. But the first episode alone had another 295,000 viewers watching via DVR through Saturday night. Other airings of the show between Thursday and Sunday, on either FS 1 or FS 2, added another 267,000 viewers. All of those figures add up to 2,833,000 total viewers, and that doesn't include any DVR viewership of anything but the originally aired episode.

A key is if the huge viewership on Sunday creates new viewers to watch episode two on Wednesday night, featuring No. 2 seed Joanne Calderwood of Team Pettis against No. 15 seed Emily Kagan of Team Melendez, and strengthens the rest of the season.

Bellator on Friday, even with a heavily criticized Joey Beltran championship shot at light heavyweight king Emanuel Newton, did roughly 100,000 viewers above its usual Friday night average. The show did 771,000 viewers live and another 65,000 through Monday night watching via DVR. The peak rating of the show was not the main event, but the ending of the Liam McGeary vs. Kelly Anundson light heavyweight tournament final, which peaked at 1,271,000 viewers that night and another 158,000 watching via DVR.

Average viewership was up 16 percent from the prior week, which had a significantly stronger show. The key difference was that show had competition from a live UFC event head-to-head.

The other major show of the week, the Saturday night World Series of Fighting event on NBC Sports, did 246,000 viewers, which is also above average for the promotion. The show was headlined by a catch weight fight with bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes beating former TUF fighter Cody Bollinger. Beating the average, which is in the 200,000 range, was impressive given the show went head-to-head with the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Marcos Maidana pay-per-view.

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