UFC 101 Buyrate Likely to Exceed Expectations
August 26, 2009
Dave Meltzer writes in the latest edition of the Wrestling Observer that final UFC 101 buyrate figures may be set to exceed the predictions of just about everyone in the industry, including MMAPayout.com:
Last week’s early estimates of UFC 101 have been confirmed. We’ve had three different systems of six we’ve gotten reports on real numbers that reported the second best numbers, behind only UFC 100. The others did right at or just below other the big three of late (Couture vs. Lesnar, Griffin vs. Evans and Penn vs. St. Pierre). One national cable estimate was at this stage between 800,000 and 900,000 buys. Trending patterns indicate numbers higher than that, and if it was the same as the big three before UFC 100, or better, as indicated by the few direct numbers we have, it could top 1 million since UFC 92 hit that figure and 91 and 94 were just below.
Essentially, three of the six systems used to tabulate and predict final PPV numbers are indicating that UFC 101 will surpass all but UFC 100 in terms of its PPV buyrate. The other three systems have placed the buyrate in the 800-900k range (something a little closer to what MMAPayout.com expected).
If true, this is obviously great news for the UFC, and just adds to their stellar year. And just to give you an indication of how good of a year it is: in 2008, the UFC did an estimated 6,700,000 PPV buys; but, if you include UFC 101, the company has already done over 5,500,000 buys as of mid-August (and with probably five events still to come).
However, something of interest to note is that, with the exception of a few outliers, most of the UFC’s successful events are clustered together in the span of a few months at a time. It suggests that momentum and coverage/interest piggybacking play significant roles in PPV buyrates. For example:
- UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie – 620,000
- UFC 61: Ortiz vs. Shamrock II – 775,000
- UFC 62: Liddell vs. Sobral – 500,000
- UFC 65: Hughes vs. St-Pierre – 500,000
- UFC 66: Liddell vs. Ortiz – 1,050,000
- UFC 91: Couture vs. Lesnar – 900,000
- UFC 92: Ultimate 2008 – 1,000,000
- UFC 93: 350,000 buys (euro record)
- UFC 94: St-Pierre vs. Penn 2 – 800,000
- UFC 99: Franklin vs. Silva – 350,000+ (new euro record)
- UFC 100: Lesnar vs. Mir II – 1,720,000
- UFC 101: Penn vs. Florian – 800,000-1,100,000
The UFC built a tremendous amount of momentum heading into June, 2009, and the results speak for themselves. However, in looking ahead there is some doubt that UFC 102 and 103 may be able to match, or even come close, to the events of mid-summer.
- UFC 102 lacks a title fight, has generated mild media interest (especially relative to UFC 100 and 101), and the event itself is far from sold-out.
- UFC 103 also lacks a title fight and will be competing against Floyd Mayweather (granted the fight will benefit from its Spike undercard coverage).
Furthermore, PPV events without title match-ups are traditionally thought of as second-tier events because they don’t draw as well: 27 title events have drawn an estimated average of 594,000 buys since 2006, while 7 non-title events have drawn just 353,000.
In other words, the expectation that the UFC is going to draw 1 million+ every event from here on out is probably an unwise one.