Even the UFC’s number one draw Brock Lesnar wasn’t enough to overcome Christmas and the move to a new channel when it came to Countdown to UFC 141. Ratings sucked more dicks than Jenna Jameson:
This past week’s “Countdown to UFC 141” debut on FUEL TV scored just 15,000 viewers and a 0.03 household rating rating among men 18-49 and a 0.0 among men 18-34.
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) today confirmed the Dec. 21 ratings with an industry source.
The show, which previews Friday’s UFC 141 event and the headlining heavyweight eliminator of Alistair Overeem vs. Brock Lesnar, scored just 1,000 viewers for 1 a.m. ET/PT replay that followed the 10 p.m. ET/PT debut.
To give you some perspective on how miserable those numbers are, more people visited Fightlinker that day than watched the UFC’s Countdown show. And that’s with holiday numbers being teh poopity poop on the internet too. This shouldn’t be all that surprising though. This deal was always about taking a shitty channel no one watches and trying to turn it into another Spike.
Do you remember back in the heady days of 2003 when the New Nashville Network became Spike? Spike Lee (who?) was suing them and all they ever showed was Star Trek reruns and James Bond marathons. I’m sure those ratings numbers sucked too, but with the help of the UFC the two organizations dragged themselves up the ratings rung one percentage of a rating point at a time. Now Spike is considered a legit cable contender and the UFC is on FOX. Not too shabby.
Whether that magic can be recreated is the big question now, and to a certain degree it doesn’t have a lot to do with how amazing the UFC is or how awesome the stuff they put on FUEL is. The network has a third the distribution of Spike and is tucked away on crappy tiers on many cable provider packages. Since many of these providers are owned by mega media conglomerates that compete with FOX, you’re going to see a lot of them blocking FUEL and trying to sabotage it if they can. FOX will be twisting arms too, using any renewal deals as an opportunity to force companies to switch the channel to a better tier.
Who will win? Who knows. But for all the hoopla on how amazing it is that the UFC is on FOX and FX, making FUEL the new Spike with all the Unleashed and Countdown content was always a risky proposition because it’s such a huge drop in visibility. In that way, I gotta say again it’s quite fortunate Viacom is dumb enough to keep running the UFC library on Spike like they are right now. At least someone is watching that channel.