LAS VEGAS – While officials say they're satisfied with the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter: Live" on FX, changes are on the way.
This season of the UFC's long-running reality series is the first on FX (after seven years and 14 seasons on Spike TV) and the first to feature live fights.
While UFC president Dana White believes many folks have painted a far-too-bleak picture of "TUF: Live," he told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) some changes are going to be made for future seasons.
"TUF: Live" has recorded the lowest ratings in series history, and episode No. 5 bottomed out with an all-time-low 947,000 viewers earlier this month. But in key demographics, the show continues to be among cable's highest-rated Friday-night programs. But White echoed comments he made to the "Orange County Register" earlier this week that the show isn't doing as well as he personally wants.
"It's not that I'm not happy," he told MMAjunkie.com. "I said it's a home run for them ... since they're dominating Friday nights with 18- to 34-year-old males. It's not the best position for me, though."
Friday nights are traditionally a barren wasteland for TV ratings, specifically among the UFC's targeted demo of young males. White knows that, and so do executives from the FOX-owned FX. But thanks to their seven-year partnership and current relationship, White said that one's thing that could change for future seasons.
"I have – let me tell you – the best [expletive] relationship with FUEL, FX and big FOX," he said. "I couldn't be happier. I wish I was here for 17 years instead of seven. Everything that's ever come up – every problem – they're just as passionate and crazy about my business as I am. They give a crap. They care.
"This is a team effort. We're doing what we're doing this season, and then we're going to switch some things up. We're going to make this thing work and make it great – if it's Friday night or it's whatever. Believe me."
White, in fact, so believes in the show's continued potential and FX's vision that he now skips press conferences and weigh-ins for major UFC events. He remains in Las Vegas to host the show and then jettisons off to locales near and far for event nights.
Besides, he said, he has complete faith in FX. If there's anything they know, he said, it's captivating TV content.
"As far as I'm concerned, FX is better than [expletive] HBO," he said. "You're paying extra money to have HBO when the programming on FX smokes HBO right now. HBO's known for all its great shows. I've heard 'Game of Thrones' is awesome, but if you look at the overall network and what FX is doing and HBO is doing, FX blows them away. And that's on regular cable that you can watch everyday."
Right now, "TUF" is good, according to White. But give them time, and it'll be great.
So for all the naysayers out there, White has a simple message.
"We're going to fix it," he said. "I read all the [expletive] from people who have no [expletive] clue what they're talking about. We're with guys who are the best in the business. We will get this thing dialed in and make it great."
And to those who think the show has run its course? To those who think the problem isn't the format or the night of the week – but rather, the show itself?
"I've been hearing 'TUF' ran its course since season four," White said. "And here we are on season 15."