UFC Establishes New Mark for PPV Buys in 2009

December 28, 2009

The UFC sold an estimated 8 million PPVs in 2009, which is a mark that breaks the organization’s previous record of 6.2 million that was set in the calendar year of 2008. Not only did the UFC enjoy an increase in popularity due to – among other things – the release of its newest video game and more media coverage, but it also found new stars with which to push its product even further. The likes of Lesnar, St-Pierre, Penn, Griffin, and Machida have all become solid draws for the company.

The following information is a summary of the UFC’s PPV buyrate history over the last four years:

UFC

2006

 

2007

 

2008

 

2009

57

400000

67

400,000

80

225,000

93

350,000

58

290000

68

540,000

81

600,000

94

800,000

59

425000

69

400,000

82

325,000

96

350,000

60

620000

71

675,000

83

530,000

97

650,000

61

775000

72

200,000

84

475,000

98

635,000

62

500000

73

425,000

85

215,000

99

365,000

63

400000

74

520,000

86

540,000

100

1,600,000

64

300000

76

475,000

87

625,000

101

900,000

65

500000

77

325,000

88

480,000

102

435,000

66

1050000

78

325,000

90

300,000

103

375,000

   

79

700,000

91

900,000

104

500,000

       

92

1,050,000

106

375,000

           

107

620,000

               
 

2006

 

2007

 

2008

 

2009

Number

10

 

11

 

12

 

13

Average

526,000

 

453,182

 

522,083

 

611,923

Median

462,500

 

425,000

 

505,000

 

500,000

Total

5,260,000

 

4,985,000

 

6,265,000

 

7,955,000

               
% Increase    

-5.23%

 

25.68%

 

26.98%

 

Payout Perspective:

The above data comparison yields some interesting observations:

1.)The most obvious of observations is that, despite the injury-plagued second half of the year, the UFC still enjoyed a record-breaking 2009. And that’s easy to forget when you consider what might have been had Lesnar been healthy and Rampage not gone to acting.

From an optimistic point of view, one could actually point to the results in the second half of the year, and say not that the UFC was declining, but that the organization is capable of further improvement on just its existing popularity alone (ignoring any future potential gains in popularity). It’s not a stretch to think that the UFC could have done 1 million more buys in 2009 given what we know about Lesnar’s drawing ability and the influence of momentum on PPV viewing habits.

2.) However, if you’re looking for any sort of indication as to how difficult September through November really was for the UFC, the organization’s YOY PPV growth dropped from some 60% in August down to the UFC’s two-year average of around 26%. That increase also includes one extra event in ’09.

3.) Moreover, while the PPV total and event average increased in 2009, the median did not. This suggests the UFC was far more volatile in 2009, which is sort of obvious when you look at UFC 100’s 1.6 million being a clear 600k ahead of anything else the organization did on the year.

The point behind the volatility is that it really underscores the difference that exists between the drawing power of the UFC brand versus the drawing ability of certain fighters within the UFC. The oft-discussed UFC baseline probably hovers around 350k – the number of hardcore UFC fans that tune in regardless of who is fighting. But the higher totals we have seen over the last few years are the result of significant draws on the top end of the card: Lesnar, St-Pierre, Griffin, Penn, Mir, Machida, Silva, etc.  

It’s also important to note that the gap between the brand’s drawing ability and that of the brand’s star fighters has grown considerably over the last few years. As you’ll note in 2006 or 2007 some of the promotion’s top end fighters like Liddell or Penn were doing 400-500k, which was considering excellent. At the same time 200k was considered to be the minimum for any event.

I’ve always maintained that the business strategy that helped the UFC climb to its current popularity won’t be suitable for pushing the organization to the next level, and the numbers would seem to support this. Moving forward, it’s going to be very important for the UFC to push the individual fighters in order to further their own growth. However, that doesn’t mean the UFC should abandon its brand building strategy altogether; there is a way the UFC can build its fighters within a UFC-themed campaign that would accomplish both goals. 

4.) There’s been some criticism of Dave Meltzer’s PPV estimates lately, but he’s always maintained that they’re just estimates and susceptible to inaccuracies – sometimes a number will change by as much as 10%. To his credit, he often follows up to change a number when a better estimate is reported.

Regardless, even if you take +/- 10% range on each of the yearly totals, the lower 2009 estimate is still large enough to beat the upper limit of what 2008 could have possibly done.

  2006   2007   2008   2009
Lower 4,734,000   4,486,500   5,638,500   7,159,500
Upper 5,786,000   5,483,500   6,891,500   8,750,500

 

12 Responses to “UFC Establishes New Mark for PPV Buys in 2009”

  1. UFC buyrates up 27% on 2008 - Sherdog Mixed Martial Arts Forums on December 28th, 2009 9:35 AM

    […] buyrates up 27% on 2008 UFC Establishes New Mark for PPV Buys in 2009 : MMAPayout.com: The Business of MMA Zuffa is making the money a lot of […]

  2. UFC buyrates up 27% on 2008 selling 8,000,000 this year - Page 5 - Sherdog Mixed Martial Arts Forums on December 28th, 2009 10:59 AM

    […] Posted by MatParker116 UFC Establishes New Mark for PPV Buys in 2009 : MMAPayout.com: The Business of MMA Zuffa is making the money a lot of money and eight million is a lot of […]

  3. uberVU - social comments on December 28th, 2009 12:01 PM

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by MMAPayoutdotcom: This week’s feature on MMAPayout.com: #UFC establishes new mark for PPV buys in 2009 (est. 8 million in total) http://tinyurl.com/yjbr69y

  4. jj on December 28th, 2009 2:57 PM

    You should do one for UFC’s ratings year over year.

  5. mmaguru on December 29th, 2009 3:33 PM

    Thanks Kelsey,
    Always great to see these stats. Another banner year for the UFC. Year over year it appears they add an additional PPV event. Here’s looking forward to 2010 and another successful year for the UFC and the growth of MMA.

    Any chance we can get to see gate/revenue comparisons for these events year over year?

  6. kangaroo on December 30th, 2009 7:52 PM

    you should change the title of the website into UFC payout…why dont you feature other mma promotions in this website…is the ufc the only profitable mma organization? so mma is like the WWE? one org making money and the others arent.

  7. kangaroo on December 30th, 2009 11:13 PM

    this is so hilarious…..the writer is erasing comments that he dosent agree with…this site is pretty much propaganda…lol

  8. Kelsey Philpott on December 31st, 2009 7:54 AM

    Kangaroo,

    We have to approve the first post from every new user e-mail. Obviously we’re not erasing posts in the comments section – if that were the case, why would we even bother having one in the first place? (Although I will admit to erasing a sum total of four posts from one piece, simply because they were discriminatory in nature; something we have zero tolerance for).

    As to your concern: the UFC currently holds an 85-90% market share from our estimates (that is it earns 85-90% of the MMA industry revenues accounted for by promotions). I think that if you follow the site on a daily basis you’ll see that we also do our best to cover Strikeforce, WEC, Dream, Sengoku, and others when we can – or when they make relevant headlines.

    But, seriously, what do you expect? This is a business website – and as business goes there often isn’t a lot to discuss other than UFC news. Moreover, the UFC being the industry leader, it’s often what people what to hear most.

    “…give them what they want.”

    And, if it’s not what they want? They’re free not to read it.

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