Spike Puts Up Good Fight

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Spike TV pulled in 2.05 million total viewers for its two-hour special UFC’s Ultimate Fight Night Live. That’s significantly better than the 1.53 million total viewers the network averaged in prime during 2005.

The Ultimate Fight Night special, which featured four live mixed-martial-arts fights, ran from 10 p.m. to midnight and earned 683,000 men 18-34. That was slightly more men than the Heat/Lakers game on TNT, which ran from 10:45 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Jan. 17 and averaged 672,000 men in the demo.

Spike began running programming with ultimate fighting, which mixes boxing, wrestling, karate and jiu-jitsu artists in often brutal bouts in a caged ring, in 2005. The fighting, previously even more violent, used to run on pay cable in the ’90s but was yanked amidst accusations that it was barbaric, from critics including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

After the Ultimate Fighting Championship company changed ownership, Spike brought a cleaned-up version of the sport to cable in the form of a reality show called Ultimate Fighter in January 2005.

The first season averaged a hearty 2.1 million viewers, quickly becoming a ratings staple for the Viacom-owned, male-targeted network, and Spike picked it up for two more cycles.

Including the Jan. 16 program, Spike has also run three live Ultimate Fight specials. The fourth, and a new season of the reality show, will debut in April.

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