While Dana White did cite a Spike TV executive in telling MMAWeekly Radio that the finale would draw a 6.0 rating, the MMAWeekly.com website confirms that the estimate was based on a Spike TV employee completely dropping the ball. The estimate was later revised to a 2.5, which was still considered an overly optimistic and unrealistic figure. Most TV critics were predicting in the 1.5-2.0 territory, and the show hit the high end of that range.
From a television analyst’s perspective, the ratings were extremely impressive. The show was only doing an average of around 1.6 with the unbelievably strong WWE RAW lead-in. No other show on Spike TV could feed ‘Ultimate Fighter’ a 4.0 rating, so the Saturday night finale was already considered quite a risk. Coupled with the fact that the finale was, in terms of VIEWERS (not households) the most watched episode of the series, Spike TV and UFC were enthusiastic about the number. The show also performed very well in many key demographics.
More importantly, even though the show only did a 1.9 cable rating, the actual fight segments were generally strong – the final 90 minutes averaged over a 2.0. The show was filled with a lot of fluff to fill the extremely large timeslot, which was undoubtedly a factor in holding the rating slightly down. If the first half hour were chopped off, the rating would have been over a 2.0.
The fact that Spike TV and UFC have trumpted the show’s ratings and begun to push a second season of the show indicates there was simply no disappointment. The show was considered a great success and was of such a high quality that a show without WWE’s strong lead-in could still post a solid 1.9 rating. At the very worst, the show performed “really well.” A fair and objective interpretation notes that the show as a great success.