I'm late to posting this, but it's important. Spike TV has released the ratings for the second episode of season 13 of 'The Ultimate Fighter'. They're down from episode one:
TUF earned a 1.0 hh rating - 1.13 in M18-49, a 1.4 in M18-34, and an average audience of 1.2 million viewers
Recall that the debut episode for season 13 is the lowest-rated debut of any season of TUF to date. Mike Fagan speculates about the cause for the depressed numbers:
In Wednesday's live thread for episode two, I talked about a few factors that might be contributing to the decline in ratings from previous seasons. I'm inclined to believe that the new time slot is hurting the show more than anything else.
The show may have become formulaic, but that formula still drew a 1.2 debut rating for season 8 featuring Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, neither of which is near the star that Brock Lesnar is today. And I have a hard time believing that people have lost interest in the former heavyweight champ, considering the traffic boosts his name gives this very site.
That leaves us with the time change as the biggest variable between this season and seasons prior. Presuming that the Ultimate Fighter won't serve as a lead-in for Coal for its fall season, it will be interesting to see if Spike TV reverts the show back to its 10 p.m. ET time slot, and if that brings the ratings back up to its former numbers.
To recap the prevalent memes surrounding why the show's numbers have sunk, we have the aura of Lesnar being damaged in fights with Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez, a lack of friction between the coaches, the new timeslot, the lack of lead-in (for the debut episode) with live fights, a tired format and unimpressive roster of unknown fighters with dubious upside.
I can't comment on any of these criticisms. I think it's far too early to know what's causing this. My hunch is that the criticism of Lesnar's allegedly diminished drawing power is grossly overstated and the lack of conflict between Lesnar and Junior dos Santos is far more the issue. It's hard to argue the format isn't in need of reinvention as well.
We will continue to monitor these numbers as the season progresses. Stay tuned.