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Dana White defends ratings, says TUF will continue on ESPN: ‘It’s still a big show’

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Early in July, ‘The Ultimate Figther’ house went on sale, and Dana White said that it might be the end for their long running reality show. Things seem to have changed since then, as White said this week that they’re bringing TUF over to ESPN, and will be hosting it on a new facility as well.

“The Ultimate Fighter will continue,” White said. “There’s still a huge market for The Ultimate Fighter. The Ultimate Fighter still does well.”

White went on to defend the recent string of low viewership and ratings, claiming that the show still averages a million viewers.

“People look at the ratings right now, and they’ll come in at half a million, 600, 650, but that’s the initial rating,” he said. “Now with DVR, and stuff like that, the number is much bigger. Last season’s Ultimate Fighter average a million viewers. That’s a lot of people.

“It’s still a big show and a big brand. Yeah, it’ll go on. We can do it with ESPN, ESPN+,” he said. “We probably won’t do two a season. We’ll probably do one.”

The TUF 27 premiere averaged just 201,000 viewers, their lowest ever since moving to FS1. Its DVR numbers had 298,000.

Here are the numbers for the rest of the season, via MMAPayout and ShowBuzzDaily:

Ep Live DVR+3

1 201,000 298,000

2 186,000 296,000

3 246,000 366,000

4 207,000 357,000

5 176,000 362,000

6 196,000 398,000

7 275,000 437,000

8 248,000 443,000

9 290,000 462,000

10 219,000 402,000

11 156,000

12 171,000

So the entire TUF 27 season averaged just 214,000 viewers per episode live, which is even worse than TUF 26’s previous low average of 237,000. Through ten episodes of TUF 27, the DVR numbers average at 382,000.

These totals are far from the average of a million that White claims. The lone positive here is that the DVR numbers appeared to trend positive for TUF 27, as after a slow start, the viewers increased to a season high of 462,000 on episode nine.

While they still had very low overall numbers for this season and the ones before it, could that one silver lining — a positive DVR trend on TUF 27 — explain their interest in continuing the show?


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