So much for the inclusion of Brock Lesnar as a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter” guaranteeing a successful ratings performance.
Wednesday’s season premiere of Spike TV’s UFC reality series “The Ultimate Fighter” opened to a 0.8 adults 18-49 rating with only 1.48 million viewers. Though that demo performance is fairly impressive for a cable series, the showing represents nothing historically-significant for the long-running UFC show and thus has to be chalked up as a disappointment. Given the expectations, some might even be inclined to call that performance a “bomb.”
Although pre-premiere buzz for the season had not been great, largely due to the fact that Brock Lesnar and opposing coach Junior dos Santos do not appear to have the heated, tense rivalry that has powered the top “TUF” seasons, many still felt casting Lesnar as one of the coaches would instantly propel the ratings to record levels. Since debuting with UFC, the former WWE wrestler has been a top draw on pay-per-view, and the assumption was that offering an inside look at Lesnar on free television would allow UFC to significantly expand on that drawing power.
By comparison, season twelve of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which featured Georges St. Pierre and Josh Koscheck as coaches, premiered in September to a 1.0 adults 18-49 rating with 1.65 million viewers. That show did benefit from the inclusion of a live UFC Fight Night as a lead-in, although that particular fight card was far from a ratings success, averaging only 1.15 million viewers.
Last year’s equivalent season from a calendar standpoint, coached by Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell, premiered to a 1.1 demo rating with 1.94 million viewers. To its credit, that season’s premiere received a stronger “Fight Night” lead-in, which clocked at a 0.8 and 1.61 million viewers.
And, in comparison to the record-setting tenth season, the performance is barely on the radar. That season, which featured Kimbo Slice as a contestant and Quinton Jackson and Rashad Evans as coaches, opened to a massive 2.5 adults 18-49 rating with 4.11 million viewers.