Amongst the fairly predictable yackity-yack on yesterday’s TUF 17 media conference call, probably the most important item is the UFC and FX finally dealing with the fact that the “Friday night death-slot” isn’t doing their record-low ratings any favours. Sherdog provides the transcript:
“The show is going to move off of Friday nights,” said [FX network exec Chuck] Saftler. “I can’t confirm the day right now, but it is definitely moving to a weekday. There will be an announcement on that sometime in the next 30 to 45 days.
“But I will say that Spike should watch their ass.”
Spike and the UFC ended their relationship at the conclusion of last year. However, the cable network retained the rights to broadcast UFC content through 2012 and has done so successfully. Spike will once again launch live MMA content this January, when the Viacom-owned station airs Season 8 of the Bellator Fighting Championships.
“Clearly, Spike has been dogging us for most of this year with the launch of [Seasons 15 and 16] of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ by trying to create viewer confusion and scheduling old episodes against ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ and trying to pass it off as new content,” said Saftler. “They will be out of the UFC game effective in January. They’re going to try to launch their own reality show that competes with ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ or does very similar things with their Bellator product.
“I’m just saying that we’ve watched how they behaved, and we’re well aware of their behavior and how they’ve acted competitively,” Saftler continued. “I’m not ready to commit to [saying we will go head-to-head with counter-programming], but we will certainly be watching how they schedule, what they schedule and who they schedule.”
In summary, as long as they’re moving to a different night, might as well get some counter-programming revenge on Spike at the same time. Kill two birds with the same gun, as my Romanian calculus prof used to say. Caught in the middle of this pissing match is Bellator, whose already ill-advised reality show will surely suffer a shit-kicking if it’s directly counter-programmed by TUF.
When you think about it, “TUF 4: The Comeback” kinda provided the model for Bellator’s entire format, except no one seems to think of TUF as a tournament. Instead everyone (Dana White included) says so-and-so “won the show”, as if it still features Survivor-esque challenges like in the first two seasons. Perhaps focusing on the fact that TUF is after all a tournament might help breathe some life back into it, and in a way be used to counter Bellator in entirety instead of just their reality show.
Of course, the death-slot is only part of the reason for TUF’s decline in popularity, hence the hail-mary choice of the star wunderkind and star troll as coaches (don’t let Dana’s cries of “bullshit” fool you). But the number of eyeballs that will be drawn to watch Sonnen’s lips flap is questionable, and perhaps best summed up by the guy Joe Rogan famously called a faggot:
Lesnar couldn’t move the needle for TUF on Spike and some of you think Sonnen will do it on FX. Some of you don’t get reality.
— EL (@TheTomasRios) October 16, 2012
He’s got a point, but on the other hand, maybe folks weren’t drawn to watch Brock Lesnar coach because they already knew he lacked charisma. We wanted to see Lesnar fight and then snarl and drip saliva while lunging at the fence like an angry Rottweiler, not be on his best behavior and repeat lame redneck catch-phrases. Conversely, Sonnen’s big (only?) draw is his personality and mouth, making him a natural to star on a reality show. As long as it’s still just a reality show, that is.