Reported UFC 76 PPV Buy Estimate

September 28, 2007

Not sure how reliable a source this is, but the Salt Lake City Community College Weekly Paper reports that UFC 76 was expected to produce $26 million of revenue on pay-per-view. That would equate to 625,000 buys, which would be at the high end of what people were speculating.

Credit Zach Arnold with the find.

UFC Ratings Flash: TUF Down Big, UFC 75 Continues to Impress

September 27, 2007

Dave Meltzer reports that last night’s episode of the Ultimate Fighter fell to 1.0 after debuting last week at 1.5 with the benefit of a live UFC Fight Night that did a 1.6. This kind of drop in week two isn’t good news for the franchise or the company who is banking on a strong TV push for Serra-Hughes. With no competition from football thanks to the move to Wednesday night, TUF’s ratings were expected to rebound. However, it should be noted that this is network premier week which may have played a significant role in the decline. Also, the program was in a different time slot from last week, moving to its normal 10PM start time.

In more positive news, UFC 75 is the fourth highest rated sports even on cable television for the year thus far in the 18-34 males demographic. The event trails only the first three editions on Monday Night Football on ESPN.

UFC Notes

September 27, 2007

More from S&P:

  • “We believe UFC has a growing, niche following, which should add stability to the company’s financial profile.” – from S&P Report Major North American Sports Leagues’ Business Risk Profiles Still Solid Desite Recent Scandals.

Dana White on the record after UFC 76 (compiled from: CBS Sportsline and MMA Weekly):

  • On Liddell-Silva: “We’ve got to sit back and look at things. There’re a lot of different fights that we could make off of this one. First, Chuck needs to decide what Chuck wants to do and [then] we’ll figure it out. [Silva vs. Liddell] had the possibility of being the biggest fight ever in mixed martial arts history.”
  • On the Lightweight Title: “Joe Stevenson will fight B.J. Penn for the vacated title if Sherk is suspended. I will wait until the decision is final though before scheduling the fight.”
  • On Fedor: “I think that Fedor, right now, the word is he wants to fight in this Sambo event, but I won’t let him fight in it if he’s with us. I think he’s going to wait until he fights in this thing in October, November, and we’ll probably come to a deal with him at the end of this year or the beginning of next year.”
  • On competition: “I am not impressed by the competition. I did see the EliteXC show the other week, and it was good, but they are so far away it’s not funny.”
  • On HDnet FiGHTS: “I like Mark Cuban. He’s a good guy, but he is going to lose a lot of money with his new venture.”

Notes from Dave Meltzer:

  • Final attendance numbers for UFC 75 at the O2 Arena in London: 16,235 (13,959 paid) sellout, $2,717,200 gate.
  • Legislation is now in place in Illinois which will bring MMA under the auspices of the state athletic commission on 6/1/08 (however there is some movement to get the start date moved up to 1/1/08). The UFC is planning a major show for the Chicago market late next year. The next targets for regulation are South Carolina and Tennessee.
  • A&E is filming a Randy Couture documentary.
  • The next edition of the Ultimate Fighter will be cast in December, shot in January and February, and debut in April.

EliteXC & WEC Ratings

September 26, 2007

The 9/15 EliteXC show on Showtime headlined by Robbie Lawler v. Ninja Rua to unify the Middleweight titles did a 1.14 rating which due to Showtime’s limited clearance is only 231,000 viewers. The rating is slightly ahead of what the network normally does on Saturday night. The show drew a 0.87 in males 18-34 and a 0.81 in males 35-49. This has to be considered a good showing considering the fact that they were without their marquee names and still posted the third highest MMA rating on Showtime. The rest of the top five:

  • Frank Shamrock v. Phil Baroni – 1.71 / 410,000 viewers
  • Frank Shamrock v. Renzo Gracie – 1.62
  • Brock Lesnar v. Kim Min-soo and Royce Graice v. Kazushi Sakuraba – 1.07
  • Live K-1 Los Angeles Coliseum Show Prelims – 0.75

The 9/5 WEC show did a 0.5 rating which is the highest rating of the brand’s three live shows thus far.

Source: Dave Meltzer

UFC 76 Payouts

September 25, 2007

Payouts from UFC 76:

  • Keith Jardine ($14,000) def. Chuck Liddell ($500,000)
  • Forrest Griffin ($44,000) def. Shogun Rua ($150,000)
  • Jon Fitch ($44,000) def. Diego Sanchez ($22,000)
  • Lyoto Machida ($50,000) def. Kazuhiro Nakamura ($20,000)
  • Tyson Griffin ($24,000) def. Thiago Tavares ($9,000)
  • Rich Clementi ($24,000) def. Anthony Johnson ($5,000)
  • Jeremy Stephens ($6,000) def. Diego Saraiva ($3,000)
  • Christian Wellisch ($14,000) def. Scott Junk ($4,000)
  • Matt Wiman ($16,000) def. Michihiro Omigawa ($5,000)

The total disclosed payroll for the event was $954,000. Keep in mind this does not include bonus money.

UPDATE – Tyson Griffin and Thiago Tavares received $40,000 each for fight of the night. Forrest Griffin received $40,000 for submission of the night.

UFC Pay-per-view Business Up 35% in First Quarter

September 25, 2007

Last week’s Standard & Poor’s report offered a peak behind the curtain of the financial wizard that is Zuffa and it’s UFC brand. While the headline was a cut in the company’s credit rating outlook, the numbers behind the headline reflect a healthy growing business. While profit margins are down substantially due to European expansion efforts, pay-per-view, the company’s key revenue source accounting for 75% of gross revenue, is actually up 35% through the first quarter of the year. It is important to note that last year’s first quarter was the weakest quarter of the year, while this year’s may end up being the strongest. However, the numbers from Q1 ’07 are also slightly ahead of Q4 ’06 which was the company’s biggest quarter last year.

Furthermore, despite a dramatic increase in expenses the company remains profitable. It is believed that Zuffa grossed $190 million last year and posted a before tax profit of $76 million. They are far off that pace this year thanks to a substantial investment in publicizing the UFC brand in the United Kingdom. Dave Meltzer reported that Dana White said that the financial officers in the company told him that he was crazy for the amount of money he spent establishing the brand in the U.K. this year.

A 35% increase in pay-per-view revenue in the first quarter from the same period last year would translate to roughly 2,295,000 buys for the first four pay-per-views of the year (the Ireland show was excluded as an international pay-per-view). Estimates place the 2/4 show headlined by Anderson Silva-Travis Lutter at 350,000-400,000. According to the Wrestling Obsever Newsletter, there is some confusion regarding the numbers for the 5/26 show headlined by Chuck Liddell-Quinton Jackson. Dana White has publicly estimated one million buys, a figure corroborated by others in the company. However, Jackson was given a figure in the 625,000 range in calculating his cut of the pay-per-view revenue. I have a hard time believing the show didn’t approach one million buys considering the unprecedented push it got on ESPN.

Estimates of the 3/4 show headlined by Randy Couture-Tim Sylvia and the 4/7 Georges St. Pierre-Matt Serra show are not available. However, if you play the averages and assume the 2/4 show did 375,000 with the 5/26 show doing 812,500, that would leave 1,107,500 combined buys for the 3/4 and 4/7 show. If you assume that the 2/4 show represents the floor for a UFC pay-per-view at this point and give the 4/7 show the same 375,000, that would put Couture-Sylvia in the neighborhood of one million buys. Regardless of the actual breakdown, the one thing that is clear is that business remains very healthy.

We’ll take a closer look at how the rest of the year is shaping up for the UFC on pay-per-view and have a more in-depth year to year comparison later in the week.

UFC 75 Ratings Breakdown

September 24, 2007

Some more detailed numbers about the record breaking UFC 75 broadcast:

  • The 2.5 million males 18-49 who watched the show is a Spike TV record.
  • 1.6 million males 18-34 is the second highest number ever for Spike, trailing only Shamrock-Ortiz.
  • Only the MTV Video Music awards posted higher numbers in the 18-34 male demographic for the week.
  • It was the fourth highest rated show on cable for the week in the 25-54 demographic (men and women).
  • The show was the highest rated show on cable in every adult demographic, men and women, for the day.

The ratings among older adults, especially women, are very impressive. The UFC regularly puts up impressive numbers in the young male demographics, but has never had much success in 25-54 demographic, especially among women.

Because Spike has a higher clearance than last year (several million more households), and the fact that Tivo viewership is now being included in the ratings, the peak quarter hour of the Jackson-Henderson fight is expected to surpass the 5.7 million viewers who watched Shamrock-Ortiz III last year making it the most watched fight of all time.

Source: Dave Meltzer

UFC: Establishing a Brand Name

September 24, 2007

Below is a link to an interesting article on the UFC’s branding efforts. Zuffa has hired an outside marketing firm to establish the UFC as the gold standard of the MMA brand in the United States. The article says the $20 million dollar ad campaign is currently on hold as Zuffa explores how best to fit Pride into its branding strategy. Not sure how current that is, since all public indications are that the Pride brand does not figure into company’s future plans. Key quote:

“Football is the NFL,” said Paul McGuire, vice president, integrated media at R&R. “The ultimate goal is you don’t say MMA, you say UFC. UFC represents mixed martial arts. It’s kind of like Coke and Kleenex. You don’t say, ‘I want a soda,’ you say, ‘I want a Coke.’ You don’t say, ‘I want a tissue,’ you say you want a Kleenex.”

Complete article: UFC: Brand Us Mixed Martial Arts Standard

UFC 76: Business Review & Outlook

September 23, 2007

The UFC paid the price last night for booking LiddellJardine, a fight that was a no win situation for Liddell and the UFC, as Jardine ground out a split decision victory over the Iceman. Perhaps even worse Liddell looked downright human, old and past his prime, against the virtually unmarketable Dean of Mean. Thankfully, Forrest Griffin may have saved short term business with his upset of Shogun Rua. Griffin, behind a strong push on Countdown and All Access, dominated a consensus top 3 light heavyweight for three rounds before finishing him just before the bell. Griffin is on the verge of super stardom.

Conservatively, Keith Jardine’s split decision victory over Chuck Liddell probably cost the company $6-8 million dollars by derailing Liddell v. Silva for December, maybe more depending on whether or not Hughes v. Serra plus whatever else they put together is good enough for 600,000-700,000 buys. On the bright side, Forrest Griffin’s win should setup a title fight with Quinton Jackson next year that would be expected to top a million buys. Jon Fitch and Tyson Griffin also turned in impressive undercard wins.

Where Liddell, the company’s biggest draw, goes from here is an open question. At the post fight press conference Chuck indicated that he would need to sit down and see whether he wants to get back in the octagon. If he continues, it would make some sense to go ahead with Liddell-Silva in December despite the loss, but at this point they probably can’t risk losing Silva who they need as a challenger at 205 next year. Liddell’s retirement would be a major blow to the company.

Logically, Jardine should move into Chuck’s spot v. Silva in December. There aren’t a lot of other options since I still think they are still too scared of Machida to put him in a high profile spot. If Silva-Liddell had happened, the winner of that match would probably have got the first shot at Rampage in ’08, while Forrest would have gotten another win against a contender. From here, I think not only does Forrest deserve the next shot, he’s really the only option unless they want to rush Silva, which given how the Pride guys are fairing thus far might not be the worst idea.

The winner of Ortiz-Evans II factors into this picture somewhere. You can make an argument that Evans should be ahead of Forrest with a win, and Tito could get the spot just because it would do big business (provided he and Rampage would fight). What do to with Rua next is another unanswered question.

No major changes in the landscape of the other weight classes coming out of the show. Diego is now damaged goods and will need to be rebuilt. Putting him back in with some of the other TUF alums seems like a likely direction. Jon Fitch has established himself as the # 2 contender at 170 pounds in my eyes. I think Fitch v. Karo Parisyan makes a lot of sense moving forward.

UFC 78: The Panic Button – UPDATED

September 22, 2007

It looks like BJ Penn is off UFC 78 on 11/19. Dave Meltzer reports this morning:

UFC is looking at moving B.J. Penn’s next fight to 12/29, on the same show as Matt Hughes vs. Matt Serra and Wanderlei Silva’s debut (well, first in years as he did fight in UFC a few times before he became famous in Japan), in Las Vegas. If Chuck Liddell doesn’t lose and doesn’t get any kind of an injury tonight, the idea is to put Liddell vs. Silva on that show. We’ll know a lot more in the next 24 hours.

Link to complete original post: UFC 78: The Panic Button

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