Learning to Sprawl
The UFC newsmagazine-style series Inside the UFC has been put on hiatus and currently has no return date planned. The last episode of the series that has been filmed will air tonight, March 1st, at 11:00 PM (ET/PT) on Spike TV, and it is officially being referred to as the "season finale."
A Spike TV spokesperson tells MMAWeekly, "Inside the UFC will be going on hiatus, as we have new originals Bullrun and TUF 5 coming up."
While part of the reason for Inside the UFC going on hiatus was because of two original series that are set to debut in March and April, that couldn't have been the entire reason. Bullrun is going to air on Tuesday nights at 10:00 PM, while The Ultimate Fighter 5 will air on Thursday nights at 10:00 PM. Neither of those timeslots conflict with Inside the UFC's regular timeslot of Thursday nights at midnight, nor does the scheduled weekly replay of Bullrun on Thursday nights at 11:00 PM, nor does
A significant factor that may have contributed to the decision to put Inside the UFC on hiatus was the show's diminishing ratings. While the show did an excellent job of hyping the UFC's pay-per-view events, it also faltered in the ratings.
Inside the UFC started off with ratings that were considered strong for a midnight show, as it averaged a 0.6 overall rating in its first five weeks. However, starting at the beginning of January, the show no longer had repeats of UFC Unleashed and other UFC programming as its lead-in, and instead it had Afro Samurai and Wild World of Spike as its lead-in.
Inside the UFC's ratings promptly collapsed without UFC programming as a lead-in, with the next four episodes all drawing overall ratings in the range of 0.3 to 0.4. The low point came on February 1st, when the show drew a 0.2 overall rating. The show didn't get much help from its lead-in, Wild World of Spike, which drew a 0.3 overall rating on February 1st.
During the UFC 67 pay-per-view on February 3rd, it was mentioned on multiple occasions that Inside the UFC would have a special start time of 11:00 PM "for the next two weeks."
Spike TV moved the debut airings of Inside the UFC from midnight to 11:00 PM starting with the February 8th episode, in part to see if the show would perform better in the earlier timeslot and with a much stronger lead-in (Pros vs. Joes). While the ratings did increase for the two episodes that debuted at 11:00 PM, those episodes still averaged a mere 0.4 overall rating.
Given the fact that repeats of UFC Unleashed consistently draw ratings in the range of 0.7 to 1.0 no matter how many times they have aired in the past and no matter what kind of lead-in they have, it wouldn't make much sense to produce a 30-minute original series every week if it was only going to average a 0.4 rating.
Inside the UFC did not air on February 22nd. A repeat of UFC Unleashed aired instead, and sure enough, it drew a 0.9 overall rating for an episode that has aired numerous times in the past.
When asked about a possible return date for Inside the UFC, a Spike TV spokesperson said, "Inside the UFC is currently in hiatus, so I don't have a target date."
The series is expected to return eventually, but not anytime in the immediate future.