UFC PPV Buyrates Increasing, Up 60% YOY

September 14, 2009

The following data represent estimates of the UFC buyrate figures over the first six months of both 2008 and 2009:

  2008     2009  
  Event Buys   Event Buys
January 80 225,000   93 350,000
Superbowl 81 600,000   94 800,000
March 82 325,000   96 350,000
April 83 530,000   97 650,000
May 84 475,000   98 635,000
June 85 215,000   99 375,000
July 86 540,000   100 1,720,000
August 87 625,000   101 850,000
  Total 3,535,000   Total 5,730,000
  Average 441,875   Average 716,250
        YOY: 62.09%


Payout Perspective:

The UFC is up an estimated 62% on year-over-year PPV revenue from 2008 to 2009. It also out-performed each of its monthly totals from 2008 to 2009.

Perhaps even more telling, however, is the year-to-date PPV figure of 5.7 million – it’s just 500,000 short of last year’s record-breaking 6.2 million buys.

All this is quite impressive for a sports organization operating in what most have predicted to be the deepest part of the current recession; a recession so bad that even the economy-proof sports market has declined as ticket sales have slumped, television advertising revenue has decreased across the board, and salary caps throughout the major leagues look at the possibility of actually taking a step backward.

What has led the UFC to this point? Some combination of the following factors:

  • A quick start. The organization ended 2008 with UFC 92: Ultimate 2008 and then followed it one month later with UFC 94. The hype and hoopla that ensued was tremendous; allowing the UFC to generate a ton of press and build the brand with new found local coverage (print, television, and digital). Remember all the concerns going in about so many Las Vegas cards in such a short period of time? It didn’t matter.
  • The video game. UFC Undisputed generated a host of publicity from non-traditional sources, and it sold 3 million+ copies worldwide, which essentially helped to expose the sport and UFC brand to a new, lucrative market (closely related to the male, 18-34 demo that MMA caters to – in fact a great amount of cross-over exists here).
  • Increasing media coverage. The result of all this hype and publicity was a renewed and positive interest in the UFC on behalf of the media – particularly national outlets like ESPN and USA Today.
  • UFC 100 Weekend. The combination of the UFC’s centennial, Brock Lesnar, GSP, and a fan expo helped to push interest in the UFC to an all-time high.
  • MMA’s growing appeal. We’ve talked before about the MMA lifestyle – the sport has its own vernacular, dress code, and general way of life – and it’s reaching a greater audience by the day. All the little things are starting to add up for MMA: the small, local shows in virtually every town/city across the continent; the plethora of training centers; and the sport-inspired movies, music, and art.

Note: I decided not to include UFC 102 in the analysis to balance the comparison. We’ll have the official, unofficial figures for you soon.

Note II: If you subtract UFC 100 and UFC 86 from the comparison, the organization is up just over 33%. A figure more in line with the organization’s growth of the past few years.

4 Responses to “UFC PPV Buyrates Increasing, Up 60% YOY”

  1. Zac Robinson on September 14th, 2009 8:26 AM

    Great information Kelsey. With I believe three more PPV shows scheduled for the year and Lesnar and Carwin on one of them, plus the push from what promises to be a monster season of TUF, the promotion should easily top 7 million buys with an outside shot at 8 million. Crazy, crazy numbers!

  2. The Divide Dispatch « The New Divide on September 16th, 2009 8:14 AM

    […] bad economy?  The UFC is up over 60 percent on pay-per-view buys from last […]

  3. Sam E. on September 25th, 2009 6:22 PM

    Impressive numbers…but doesn’t anyone care if they are real? Dana is notorious for exaggerating his PPV numbers. Unlike HBO or Showtime, UFC is a privately held company, so UFC has no obligation to be truthful in its public statements. Does anyone believe these numbers are accurate?

  4. combatsports4life on September 30th, 2009 10:17 AM

    Those are the numbers from Meltzer not Dana.

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