Will Season Nine of the Ultimate Fighter Save Spike TV's Signature Series?

Brian OswaldMMA Editor April 3, 2009

Most television series tend to suffer from a ratings decline as they get older.

With slightly sagging ratings, the "Ultimate Fighter" series seemed destined to head down that same predictable course.

Enter Season Nine: “The Ultimate Fighter: U.S. vs. U.K.”

The season nine premiere, which aired on Wednesday, April 1, drew its highest rating among men 18-49 since Season Four (August 2006), and its most-watched season premiere since Season Five (April 2007). 

The episode also drew more men 18-34 and 18-49 than anything else on cable in its time-slot (10:15-11:15pm ET/PT), besting all sports competition including the NBA on ESPN.

Overall, the series drew a 1.8 in M18-49, a 2.1 in M18-34, a 2.7 in M25-34, and an average audience of 1.8 million viewers.

Prior to the season premiere of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Spike TV aired the first-ever live UFC fight from Nashville, TN headlined by welterweights Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann. 

The “UFC Fight Night” delivered 1.9 million viewers and, like “The Ultimate Fighter,” drew more Men 18-34 and 18-49 than anything in its time-slot (8:00-10:15pm ET/PT). 

Overall, the “UFC Fight Night” delivered a 1.7 among M18-49, a 2.1 for M18-34, a 2.7 in M25-34, and attracted an average audience of 1.9 million viewers.

It would appear the concept, which Dana White publicly chastised, worked for MMA viewers, at least initially. The concept, coupled with the popularity of the coaches, Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson, could give the series a much needed ratings boost.

The Americans and the British have had several skirmishes throughout their 250-year relationship. Getting to see if Season Nine of "The Ultimate Fighter" plays out more like "The Revolutionary War" or "The War of 1812" from a marketing perspective looks to be half the battle.