Honest Evaluation Of TUF Live Shortly
Posted on 02 May 2012
by MMAScoops.com Staff
FX vice president Chuck Saftler recently spoke with MMAJunkie about The Ultimate Fighter Live. Here are the highlights…
On The Show Staying on Fridays: "We're going to stick with Friday nights for the fall season, and we do have a strong belief that Friday nights will in fact become quite successful for 'The Ultimate Fighter'. We'll also be very self-honest about the results that we see, and we will do what we do with all problems, which is constantly evaluate the results. If we don't see these results get better, then we're going to look at what other options are out there. But right now, we still have a strong belief that Friday night is a great night to watch this program and to experience the UFC much in the same way that Saturday night has grown into a fantastic night for the UFC, as well."
On How The Show Has Played Out Thus Far: It's played out, honestly, pretty perfectly. I think there was a really, really steep learning curve that went on with the new format and the new network. There was a lot of everybody getting used to each other. There was certainly trying to figure out how to do this show in a new way, which I think for the Pilgrim folks and for the UFC folks and for us was something we all had to spend a lot of time wrapping out head around. I think especially that first episode we did, which was the live 16-fight night, was definitely a very, very steep learning curve. But from the point episode No. 2 happened and on, this show has met my expectations creatively in a very big way. I think this show is playing out excellent from the standpoint of merging the pre-taped reality with the live elements quite nicely. That look back at the week that folds into the here-and-now moment has been quite excellent.
On Ratings Reaching a Series Low: It's part of the learning curve, and it's part of the execution of it. I think there are a number of challenges when it comes to ratings. What I've learned after a very, very long career is that when you have good product, you have to have patience. We've got to have patience with this property.
First off, there's a learning curve for the audience from the standpoint of it's moved to a new network, and that's not helped very well by the fact that the previous network that this sat on continued to make noise and continued to create confusion and moved to the same night. We put the show on Friday night, and Spike decided that they were going to brand Friday night as 'The Ultimate Fighter' night for them with old episodes. That didn't help in terms of us being able to be out there without a lot of white noise saying, 'UFC is now on FX,' especially as they had Kimbo Slice hosting live head-to-head with us in that first week.
You usually get one shot with your marketing to really say, 'This is where you're going to find this show,' and it was complicated to do that because Spike kept making so much noise. In fact, Spike was making that noise right back to the moment they announced season 14 would be the last season of 'The Ultimate Fighter.' They weren't saying the last season of 'The Ultimate Fighter' on Spike. They said, 'It's the last season of 'The Ultimate Fighter.'' So when you look at the fact that Spike was doing what they felt they needed to do to make their statements about their investment they had made in 'The Ultimate Fighter' to that point in time, you had that to create confusion with viewers. You had the fact that you also have an awful lot of competition now. You have Bellator out there making noise. You have Strikeforce that are making noise. You have 'The Ultimate Fighter' show making noise. You have 'Fight Nights' making noise. By the way, you have 'Fight Nights' on both FOX and FX. Between Showtime, Spike, MTV2, FOX Network and FX, it takes a little bit of time for the viewers to come to an understanding of where they're going to find each property. That's part of a patience curve that we have to have getting viewers to the show.