MTVN’s Spike TV is finally giving fans of The Ultimate Fighter reality series the chance to watch full episodes from the past 11 seasons with today’s site relaunch. The complete overhaul of UltimateFighter.com is part of a formal partnership with The Ultimate Fighting Championship and is a completely new site, an extension from the individual sections that appeared on both UFC.com and Spike.com, said Erik Flannigan, EVP, digital media for MTVN’s Entertainment Group. The site is built on the same infrastructure as Comedy Central’s Colbert Nation site, which boasts a wide array of clips and full episodes of the Colbert Report, along with the usual Facebook and Twitter sharing tools. But one major difference between the videos on ColbertNation and UltimateFighter is that fans of the latter will have to wait for full episodes until the current season ends.
In this case, the 11th season of The Ultimate Fighter is starts next week, with a preview on Saturday, so online fans won’t be to access full episodes on the web until its done, though previews will be available. After a demonstration at MTVN’s West Village offices, Flannigan offered some more insights about the video strategy the company is employing for the site and why the approach differs somewhat from what it’s doing elsewhere.
“TUF is an outcome-based reality show and we believe watching it live is much more important,” Flannigan said. It’s a different experience from The Daily Show or Colbert, which because they’re topical, Flannigan said viewers tend want to see a clip of what they missed last night. He compared fans of TUF to diehard viewers of the long-running Comedy Central weekly series South Park, saying that both have an insatiable appetite for all kinds of past clips, not just the latest snippets. Plus, it has such a huge library, it makes sense to make the effort on showcasing all kinds of clips from the history of the show. “By windowing the videos after the TUF season ends, it serves as a nice bridge to the next one,” Flannigan said. “Otherwise, what else do we have to talk about in between?”
The new TUF site boasts around 1,000 clips and 231 complete fights. In addition to searching for a specific fighter, viewers can also find highlights of certain moves. “You want a knee to the head, you got it,” said Jon Slusser, SVP, Spike Digital and Video Games, during the presentation.
At least for the time being, there are no plans to charge for the online videos, which are all ad-supported. The relaunch sponsors include the Marines, Burger King and mixed martial arts clothing and gear retailer Tapout.