After two seasons of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) airing on FX, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has tinkered with various parts of the show. It tried, rather unsuccessfully, to create a live format, and now the current season, which follows a more "classic" TUF formula, is struggling, too.
What was similar in both of these seasons, and a major complaint for many, was the Friday night scheduling of shows. Now, it seems that TUF will move away from that time slot and into a more fitting one for viewership that will soon be determined.
During today's TUF 17 conference call, Chuck Saftler, an executive of the FX TV network, went into detail about changing the day TUF is aired:
"The show is going to move off of Friday nights. It's definitely moving to a week day. There will be an announcement on that somewhere in the next 30-45 days. I will say that Spike should watch their ass."
Mentioning Spike, the former home to The Ultimate Fighter, is an interesting point here. Spike TV has counter-programmed new seasons of The Ultimate Fighter with older seasons they still possess the rights to in an effort to draw away viewers. With a more concerted effort in thwarting Spike's attacks on their show, we could see some big improvements.
While Dana White may get mad at you for saying anything negative about the current ratings for The Ultimate Fighter, it's pretty clear that the numbers they've gotten recently aren't exactly music to a TV producer's ears. Saftler spoke about his optimism for the next season:
"We were absolutely monitoring the Friday situation and we want to see if there is a day that would work better for the show. Certainly with Jones and Sonnen as the coaches for this upcoming season we have probably the best casting that we've seen for this show and we have really high expectations as to what the ratings will be as the result. We have very, very big expectations for ratings."
Of course, I was very adamant about the UFC providing a new TUF formula, and Saftler did touch on that for a moment. Viewership won't stay high if they plan on force feeding viewers the same things they always have, but now that he did mention better casting, I'll remain optimistic.
As mentioned above, Saftler did show some notable aggression towards competitors at Spike TV. He mentioned them again, talking about their attempts to sabotage TUF's ratings:
"Clearly Spike has been dogging us for most of this year with the launch of the two seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, by creating viewer confusion and scheduling old episodes and puttiing them off as new content. They're going to try to have their own reality show that's similar to The Ultimate Fighter. We watched how they behaved and we're well aware of their behavior and how they've acted competitively. We'll be watching what they schedule, how they schedule and where they schedule."
Clearly, Saftler wasn't too happy with how Spike has handled this competition. With the UFC providing newer, much more relevant coaches, and a strong, competitive FX producing team behind them, some great things may be in store from the next season of The Ultimate Fighter.
In the end, the recent moves being made with The Ultimate Fighter should be conducive towards good ratings. While Dana White refuses to say that Jones vs. Sonnen was made to aid TUF ratings, it is obviously something that will help, as well as the change to its date.
Taping for the show is set for later this month.