We've just seen our third episode of The Ultimate Fighter on FX, and I think we've seen enough to get a feeling of the differences between the show on FX and on Spike TV.
Since the format of the show changed this season, it's a little tough to tell which changes are due to the new format, and which are because of the new network.
However, there are a few points that we can look at to determine an early winner.
First, the programming.
Spike TV is currently airing shows such as 1000 Ways to Die, Bar Rescue, Deadliest Warrior and Impact Wrestling. FX is currently airing shows such as Archer, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League and Sons of Anarchy.
There's also the matter of lead-in programming.
Last night, FX broadcast the movie Taken prior to the airing of The Ultimate Fighter.
I don't recall Spike TV having any specific lead-in programming, but I don't think they played movies right before the show's airing. I think most of their programming would have matched the show a little better.
I don't think UFC programming looks out of place on FX, but it's definitely right at home on Spike TV.
The edge goes to Spike TV.
Next, we have the day that the show is airing.
Which network do you think is a better fit for The Ultimate Fighter?
Since the show was on Spike TV, it has aired on different days. The early seasons of the show aired on Mondays, then moved to Thursdays and most recently aired on Wednesdays. On FX, The Ultimate Fighter currently airs on Fridays at 10pm.
Personally, I think this is one of the worst days for the show to be airing. Since the fights are aired live, maybe the execs wanted to give it that "Friday Night Fights" feel. Or maybe they wanted to avoid scheduling conflicts, didn't want to compete with other shows on other time slots or had to air it on Friday due to production issues.
The speculation could go on, but what I do know is that Friday is a notoriously difficult day to program. People like going out on Friday. You don't see many networks putting their "must see" shows on Friday.
Once again, the edge goes to Spike TV.
Finally, there's the indisputable evidence: the ratings. Season 15 premiered to 1.3 million viewers. This is a slight drop off from previous seasons. (Note: There is a difference between millions of viewers, and the numbers rating. You can look at the ratings for previous seasons here.)
Now, you can't expect huge ratings immediately when moving to a new network, and you also have to take into account recent rating trends and viewer fatigue. But once again, the edge goes to Spike TV.
So, Spike TV wins a pretty decisive victory. It's a better home for The Ultimate Fighter. However, there's one giant elephant sitting in the room that renders all that was previously mentioned obsolete.
Its name is FOX.
The whole reason that The Ultimate Fighter is on FX is because of the UFC's deal with FOX. The UFC was as big as it was going to get on Spike TV. The potential gains for the UFC airing on FOX are massive. So sacrificing The Ultimate Fighter a little bit is definitely worth it in the UFC's eyes.