ESPN2 airs episodes two and three of UFC Primetime for 'St. Pierre vs Shields'

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In news that flew way under the radar, the second episode of UFC Primetime, featuring Georges St. Pierre and Jake Shields, aired on ESPN2 on Wednesday, April 20, 2011, at 11 p.m. ET.

That's a full hour before it aired on Spike TV. 

When asked to comment on why the show was shown on ESPN2, Dana White told MMAFighting.com he put it on ESPN for more eyeballs and more distribution. And while there is no broadcast deal in place with "The Worldwide Leader," the final episode of Primetime will also air on "The Deuce" next Wednesday at 11 and 11:30 p.m. ET.

The same MMAFighting report states the rating for the second episode on ESPN2, which aired twice at 11 and 11:30 p.m. ET, combined for a .3 cable rating.

While that's rather paltry, the show was not advertised and showed up on next to no cable guides. It was an impromptu affair and that showed when the numbers came in.

That won't be the case next week. Is a ratings war (and potential bidding war) brewing between ESPN and Spike, facilitated by UFC?

When White says he simply put Primetime on ESPN2 to garner more eyeballs, he made sure to note the show is also airing on ION, Versus and Fuel. That could be due to a lack of buzz for the upcoming "St. Pierre vs. Shields" pay-per-view on April 30.

For being a mega-show with a veritable triple main event, the lack of anticipation is rather astounding. The ratings for the initial episode of Primetime on Spike TV were the worst they had ever been, drawing a measly 610,000 viewers.

This was alarming but not altogether shocking considering the fact the timeslot was switched to the later -- and much less desirable -- timeslot of 12 a.m. ET.

And it's for that very same reason that speculation is rampant regarding the nature of the decision to air the show on ESPN2 a full hour earlier than on Spike. Is it a tactic against Spike? Is it just another way to get as many eyes as possible on the headliners of UFC 129?

Now that it's known Primetime will air next Wednesday, April 27, 2011, on both ESPN2 (at 11 and 11:30 p.m. ET) and Spike TV (at 12 a.m. ET), it will be interesting to note the difference in the ratings garnered on each network.

It's also intriguing to see where this story leads. Major UFC programming airing on the largest sports network on TV is nothing to scoff at. Is there a deal to be had here?

Stay tuned.

If you missed episode two, you can view it, in its entirety, by clicking here.

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