UFC 110 International Ratings

February 24, 2010

As reported in yesterday’s edition of MMAterial Facts, Australian media news website, Throng, brings us the national ratings for UFC 110 on One:

Australia Free to Air TV Ratings:

Top shows for the night:
1 Seven News – Sun Seven 1,292,000
2 Border Security – Australia’s Front Line Seven 1,276,000
3 Air Ways Seven 1,267,000
4 The Good Wife Ten 1,256,000
5 Twenty/20 – Australia V West Indies Nine 1,247,000
6 Nine News Sunday Nine 1,237,000
7 Bones Seven 1,156,000
8 Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation Ten 1,091,000
9 Sunday Night Seven 1,027,000
10 House Ten 958,000
11 Vancouver Gold 2010 Winter Olympics: Day 8 Nine 916,000

43 Bewitched GO 187,000
44 The Great South East Seven 177,000 B only
45 Gardening Australia Rpt ABC1 165,000
46 The Big Bang Theory GO 162,000
47 The Love of Money SBS ONE 162,000
48 Dateline SBS ONE 159,000
49 Born to Be King: Prince Charles at 60 Rpt. ABC1 150,000
50 Wipeout GO 147,000

(Outside of Top 50) UFC 110 Main Card Live One  123,000


Top Programs Across Sports Channels
Rank     Program     Channel     Average     Peak
1    Live: AFL: NAB Cup Geelong v North Melb    Fox Sports 2    130,000    201,000
2    UFC 110 Main Card Live    ONE    123,000    189,000

MMATorch has an inclusive on the ratings situation for UFC 110 in Abu Dhabi:

– UFC110 was a huge success over here being the highest rated program of the week (beating 24 Day 8 by over 30 percent). The most watched fight was Wanderlei Silva vs. Michael Bisping which was watched on around 40 percent of televisions in the country (according to Mobily who are the main TV/Phone/internet providers). I have no idea if that is an accurate figure as I have no idea if the company are trustworthy; that said, the verbal feedback I have received certainly point at it being the top end of the expected viewership.

– UFC 112 is now a nightly news story on the main news network over here (unfortunately, my Arabic isn’t good enough to understand what is being said, but each night they flash up a graphic of the arena and a graphic of the three main events).

– The word out of Abu Dhabi is that people are speculating that UFC will come to Abu Dhabi once a year and also to Dubai once a year. In terms of making money, I’m not sure how much business sense this makes as the time difference may effect PPV buyrates in the U.S. I guess that we will find out in April if a loaded card overcomes the possibility of ESPN and webite spoilers. I would have to assume that the deciding factor will be how much money the Arabs are putting into the company vs. the money that can be made on PPV.

Payout Perspective:

Let’s put these ratings in perspective: Australia is a country with a population of 21+ million people; and has approximately 7.6 million television households. Thus, the reports of the UFC scoring anywhere between 122,000 – 250,000 viewers must not be compared to what the UFC might normally draw in North America. It should largely be considered a good result for a debut event operating in a somewhat hostile media environment.

The Abu Dhabi ratings are superb – if true – and bode well for the UFC’s future expansion into the Middle East. While North American PPV has been the UFC’s meal ticket thus far, there may very well come a time when the organization can afford to lessen its dependence on that market – the UAE my provide one such opportunity.

It’s important to keep an eye on the bigger picture, here. None of these moves should be judged alone; the long term growth of the sport dictates that short term sacrifices will need to be made. If that means the UFC has to sacrifice a few 600k-800k buyrates so that it can embed the sport in a couple of new markets – because we all know how powerful a marketing tool a live event really is – then so be it.

The ratings aren’t stellar, but they’ll grow. The initial PPVs in some of these new markets may also prove to be less than ideal, but the next time the UFC returns to these markets, you should be able to see a difference.

UFC Undisputed 2010: First-Look

February 24, 2010

IGN.com gives us a first-look at the latest edition of THQ’s UFC Undisputed 2010 set for release on May 25th on multiple console platforms, including Xbox 360, PS3, and PSP.

Payout Perspective:

The first edition of the game sold more than 3.5 million copies and played an instrumental role in helping to promote the UFC last summer during the lead-up to its centennial event. There’s no reason to think the game won’t be as successful this year, given it’s success last year and the host of improvements reportedly made to the game play.

Note: The timing of the release coincides with the UFC Expo and is positioned right in the middle of what’s sure to be an exciting stretch of fights for the UFC. The UFC and THQ really get it when it comes to utilizing this game to drive interest and awareness in the larger UFC brand.

Check out the Undisputed website in the next few months for information updates.

Also, THQ passed along these new screenshots shots to MMAPayout.com:

image-2010-02-17-18-44-17

image-2010-02-16-00-21-09

MMAterial Facts (02/23/10)

February 23, 2010

  • ProElite Relaunch under Management of Stratus Media Group
  • UFC 110 International Ratings
  • We must move with the times or be beaten to the punch
  • HGH test leads to ban of rugby player
  • The UFC Will Now Overcharge Fans in Movie Theaters As Well

ProElite Relaunch under Management of Stratus Media Group

“This acquisition allows Stratus and ProElite to combine forces at the management and board levels of both organizations,” stated Paul Feller, President and CEO of Stratus. “ProElite has a globally recognized brand. We believe that by combining select key experienced management executives, who made ProElite the immediate success it was, with new top executives with demonstrated successes in conducting and televising MMA events internationally and sufficient capital, that we will achieve the brand’s strategy for global growth and success. With this combination, we can start focusing on strengthening and repositioning ProElite events and the brand, planning a series of MMA events that we believe will bring excitement to the MMA market, fans and our shareholders and establish ProElite as a leading international MMA company.”

Founded in 2006, ProElite still holds the record for highest ratings for a major network telecast of a MMA event. ProElite also owns a web portal with social networking for MMA fighters and fans and live streams of MMA bouts not broadcast on television. A focal point of ProElite’s live event promotions is Elite XC. Running its first show in 2007, it quickly became one of the most visible brands in mixed martial arts in the United States. Prior to the sale of specific assets which produce ongoing financial considerations owed from Strikeforce and King of the Cage, ProElite recorded $13.5 million in MMA event and television revenues for the 18 months ended June 2008. ProElite has engaged in an extensive restructuring that included the sales of certain assets for cash and a share of future revenues, significant expense reductions, the elimination of $12 million of direct and contingent liabilities and the shedding of unprofitable subsidiaries. The company maintains its ownership stake in South Korean-based Spirit MC, and British promotion Cage Rage.   (PRESS RELEASE) … (MMAPayout’s Perspective)

UFC 110 International Ratings

Australia Free to Air TV Ratings:

Top shows for the night:
1 Seven News – Sun Seven 1,292,000
2 Border Security – Australia’s Front Line Seven 1,276,000
3 Air Ways Seven 1,267,000
4 The Good Wife Ten 1,256,000
5 Twenty/20 – Australia V West Indies Nine 1,247,000
6 Nine News Sunday Nine 1,237,000
7 Bones Seven 1,156,000
8 Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation Ten 1,091,000
9 Sunday Night Seven 1,027,000
10 House Ten 958,000
11 Vancouver Gold 2010 Winter Olympics: Day 8 Nine 916,000

43 Bewitched GO 187,000
44 The Great South East Seven 177,000 B only
45 Gardening Australia Rpt ABC1 165,000
46 The Big Bang Theory GO 162,000
47 The Love of Money SBS ONE 162,000
48 Dateline SBS ONE 159,000
49 Born to Be King: Prince Charles at 60 Rpt. ABC1 150,000
50 Wipeout GO 147,000

(Outside of Top 50) UFC 110 Main Card Live One  123,000


Top Programs Across Sports Channels
Rank     Program     Channel     Average     Peak
1    Live: AFL: NAB Cup Geelong v North Melb    Fox Sports 2    130,000    201,000
2    UFC 110 Main Card Live    ONE    123,000    189,000

* Ratings figures are OzTam Five capital city Preliminary figures. Five capital cities are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Raw data sourced from TV Tonight, Media Spy, Media Week, and Who We Are. Some Ten programs based on figures provided by Ten. (Throng)

***

We must move with the times or be beaten to the punch, says Lewis

Lewis, who has trained world champions Kostya Tszyu, Jeff Harding and Jeff Fenech during his 50-year involvement in boxing, was among the 250,000 Australian viewers who watched UFC 110 on One HD and admitted he was impressed.  (Sydney Morning Herald)
***

UFC 110 scores big ratings in Saudi Arabia, beating “24”, TV ads for 112 behind, speculation on annual shows in Abu Dhabi

UFC110 was a huge success over here being the highest rated program of the week (beating 24 Day 8 by over 30 percent). The most watched fight was Wanderlei Silva vs. Michael Bisping which was watched on around 40 percent of televisions in the country (according to Mobily who are the main TV/Phone/internet providers). I have no idea if that is an accurate figure as I have no idea if the company are trustworthy; that said, the verbal feedback I have received certainly point at it being the top end of the expected viewership.

– An advert for UFC112 ran straight after the PPV which advertised the old main event of Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort. Apparently this was changed on the replay to the correct main event fighters

– UFC 112 is now a nightly news story on the main news network over here (unfortunately, my Arabic isn’t good enough to understand what is being said, but each night they flash up a graphic of the arena and a graphic of the three main events).  (MMATorch)

We must move with the times or be beaten to the punch

LEGENDARY boxing trainer Johnny Lewis believes Sunday’s successful UFC event in Sydney has highlighted the threat his sport faces from mixed martial arts, and has called for a single body to run the sweet science.

Lewis, who has trained world champions Kostya Tszyu, Jeff Harding and Jeff Fenech during his 50-year involvement in boxing, was among the 250,000 Australian viewers who watched UFC 110 on One HD and admitted he was impressed.

”It was enjoyable and you could see why it does so well,” Lewis said. ”I think we’re a long way behind at the moment.”

Asked whether he thought many others in the boxing community had taken notice of the Acer Arena event, Lewis said: ”I think they made us take notice of it. They are gobbling up our sport very, very quickly.”

”The one thing they have got is a single body in charge of the sport and it is working for them,” Lewis said. ”There is one world champion and everyone knows who it is. I think our sport got a big wake-up call out of it. We have got too many world champions and we should take a leaf out of what they are doing.”

UFC organisers hope to stage the next Australian event in Melbourne but need the Victorian government to lift its ban on cage fighting before they can do so. It was not clear last night whether the NSW government would fight to retain the event in Sydney. (Sydney Morning Herald)

HGH test leads to ban of rugby player

In a major breakthrough in the fight against doping, a British rugby league player has become the first athlete to be suspended for using human growth hormone.

Terry Newton admitted taking the substance in a statement released by his attorneys on Friday. The United Kingdom Anti-Doping authority announced a two-year ban on Monday after Newton was fired by his club, Wakefield.

“It’s the first time and very significant,” WADA director general David Howman said. “It shows the people who say that HGH cannot be detected that it can. The sports people who said it can’t be detected are fooling themselves.”

HGH is banned in the major North American sports leagues, most notably by baseball since 2005. But amid the lack of an effective test, there has not been testing for the substance…

“There has been a feeling that you can take growth hormone with impunity, but this shows this is no longer the case,” Parkinson said. “Now there is a test, so our message to athletes is to think twice about using it.  (ESPN)

The UFC Will Now Overcharge Fans in Movie Theaters As Well

Our first question, obviously, is “How much is this shit gonna cost us?” The answer, sadly, is “Even more than we spent to see Avatar in IMAX, which was totally worth it, but still.” A quick search for tickets in my area shows that the UFC 111 movie theater experience will set me back $25 per ticket plus service charges. As GalsGuidetoMMA puts it, “I mean, you’re probably not going to go by yourself, right? So for two people you’re looking at over $50. Why the hell wouldn’t you just get the PPV?”

This = truth. If I’m giving up legroom, and trays of homemade hot wings, and the freedom to drink as much beer as I want, and the right to not have strangers shouting in my ear, then I want the experience to cost significantly less than it normally would. Is the audience going to be packed with lonely people who can’t find friends to watch the fights with and who don’t live near any sports bars? I have no problem with Zuffa trying to maximize profits, but after the WEC PPV pricing announcement, I wonder if they’re leaving money on the table by establishing price points that make absolutely no sense… (CagePotato)

IMAGE OF THE DAY

UFC 111 Movie Poster

QUOTE OF THE DAY

”The one thing they have got is a single body in charge of the sport and it is working for them,” Lewis said. ”There is one world champion and everyone knows who it is. I think our sport got a big wake-up call out of it. We have got too many world champions and we should take a leaf out of what they are doing.”  (Johnny Lewis, Australian Boxing Trainer)

QUICK HITS

  • Strikeforce ‘Challengers 6’ Lineup Finalized (Sherdog)
  • Bellator’s tourney payouts tighten; new weight classes likely for season-three tourneys (MMAJunkie)
  • ProElite Will Promote MMA Events Again (MMAFighting)
  • “Adrenaline MMA V” canceled for March 20 but could be rescheduled for April (MMAJunkie)
  • Kaufman vs. Hashi title fight elevated to Strikeforce Challengers VI main event (MMAJunkie)
  • Bellator Sets Matchups for Featherweight Draw (Sherdog)
  • NSAC Director Explains Sotiropoulos’ Attire (MMAFighting)
  • Frank Mir issues apology after Brock Lesnar death comments (MMAJunkie)
  • OLYMPICS SPEED UFC PLANS TO RETURN TO BRAZIL  (MMAWeekly)
  • SURGERY PUTS ANTHONY JOHNSON OUT FOR MONTH (MMAWeekly)
  • MARLON SANDRO VS TOMONARI KANOMATA IN SENGOKU (MMAWeekly)
  • MODAFFERI HOPES TO ENTER STRIKEFORCE TOURNEY (MMAWeekly)
  • White flips his lid over Mir’s comments about Lesnar (Cage Writer)
  • Trevor Prangley Returns to the Spotlight (Heavy)
  • Jamie Varner vs. Kamal Shalorus likely for WEC 48 (FiveOuncesOfPain)

TV LISTINGS

  • HDNet Fights Presents K-1 Classics (Hari vs Bonjasky) at 8 PM ET on HDNet (02/26/10)
  • InsideMMA (Dominick Cruz, Alan Belcher and Karen Darabedyan) at 9 PM ET on HDNet (02/26/10)
  • HDNet Fights Presents The Featherweights, Vol. 2, at 10 PM ET on HDNet (02/26/10)
  • Best of Pride FC at 10 PM ET/PT on Spike (02/26/10)
  • Strikeforce Challengers: Kaufman vs Hashi at 11 PM ET/PT on Showtime (02/26/10)

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Strikeforce Challengers: Kaufman vs Hashi at 11 PM ET/PT on Showtime (02/26/10)
  • WEC 47: Bowles vs Cruz on at 10 PM ET on Versus (03/06/10)
  • HDNet Fights: Sengoku Raiden Championship 12 at TBD on HDNet (03/12/10)
  • HDNet Fights: XFC X-Night of Champions at 10 PM ET on HDNet (03/19/10)
  • UFC on Versus: Vera vs Jones at 10 PM ET on Versus (3/21/10)
  • HDNet Fights: King of the Cage – Legacy at 10 PM ET on HDNet (03/26/10)
  • Strikeforce Challengers: Johnson vs Mahe at 11 PM ET/PT on Showtime (03/26/10)
  • UFC 111: GSP vs Hardy at 10 PM ET on PPV (03/27/10)
  • UFN 21 : Florian vs Gomi at 10 PM ET on Spike (03/31/10)
  • The Ultimate Fighter 11 Debut after UFN 21 on Spike (03/31/10)

Stratus Media Assumes Control of ProElite Board

February 23, 2010

In late 2009 it was announced that Stratus Media Group had purchased ProElite for $2 million. Now we’ve received word that Stratus Media has assumed control of the ProElite board and will look to bring relaunch the company in 2010.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Stratus Media Group, Inc. (OTCBB:SMDI – News), a live entertainment company, announced today that Stratus has assumed control over the board of directors and the management of ProElite Inc. (Pink Sheets:PELE – News), an entertainment and media company involved in the promotion of mixed martial arts (MMA).

 

“This acquisition allows Stratus and ProElite to combine forces at the management and board levels of both organizations,” stated Paul Feller, President and CEO of Stratus. “ProElite has a globally recognized brand. We believe that by combining select key experienced management executives, who made ProElite the immediate success it was, with new top executives with demonstrated successes in conducting and televising MMA events internationally and sufficient capital, that we will achieve the brand’s strategy for global growth and success. With this combination, we can start focusing on strengthening and repositioning ProElite events and the brand, planning a series of MMA events that we believe will bring excitement to the MMA market, fans and our shareholders and establish ProElite as a leading international MMA company.”

 

Founded in 2006, ProElite still holds the record for highest ratings for a major network telecast of a MMA event. ProElite also owns a web portal with social networking for MMA fighters and fans and live streams of MMA bouts not broadcast on television. A focal point of ProElite’s live event promotions is Elite XC. Running its first show in 2007, it quickly became one of the most visible brands in mixed martial arts in the United States. Prior to the sale of specific assets which produce ongoing financial considerations owed from Strikeforce and King of the Cage, ProElite recorded $13.5 million in MMA event and television revenues for the 18 months ended June 2008. ProElite has engaged in an extensive restructuring that included the sales of certain assets for cash and a share of future revenues, significant expense reductions, the elimination of $12 million of direct and contingent liabilities and the shedding of unprofitable subsidiaries. The company maintains its ownership stake in South Korean-based Spirit MC, and British promotion Cage Rage.

Payout Perspective:

It’s hard not to be skeptical of the acquisition and assumed control; Stratus isn’t the first group of non-MMA business people that thought they could jump into MMA and be successful. ProElite still has a long way to go before it resumes promoting MMA shows with any frequency or modicum of success.

Moreover, I question just how globally recognized ProElite’s brands truly are. If Stratus thinks it can jump back to the CBS caliber shows the company was running – at significant losses – it’s likely got another thing coming. This management team is better off starting in the United States with a small show and trying to slowly expand from there.

MMAPayout.com Blue Book

February 23, 2010

Blue Book a term often referring to an almanac or other compilation of statistics and information. The term dates back to the 15th century, when large blue velvet-covered books were used for record-keeping by the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Today MMAPayout.com published the first entry in the MMAPayout.com Blue Book. The Blue Book is an unofficial database of MMA business statistics made available as a complimentary service to the MMA industry. Over the years many members of the MMA business community have expressed interest in such a database and MMAPayout.com hopes that it will prove to be a reliable, convenient one stop resource for all things in the business of MMA.

The database is a work in progress and will be updated and amended on an ongoing basis. It currently includes statistics from 2006-2009. All statistics are based on the best available information, however, MMAPayout.com does not certify the accuracy of any information provided.

The following MMAPayout.com Blue Book reference pages are now available:

The Future of MMA: Children in the Sport

February 23, 2010

Bobby Razak, the filmmaker behind the Legalize MMA documentaries and various Tapout short films, has released another interesting film about MMA, only this time he looks at the sport from the perspective of two children participants.

The Future of MMA By Bobby Razak from Bobby Razak on Vimeo.

Payout Perspective:

I’m not a film critic, but in my eyes Razak is a talented filmmaker and an asset to the sport of MMA. The latest offering is an interesting look at the growth of grassroots MMA and a glimpse of the types of born-fighters we can expect to enter the sport in ten years. However, the film and some of its content do raise some questions about the participation of children in the sport.

I’m not a pediatrician, either, but I do wonder what kind of physical toll the sport of MMA might take on the young, undeveloped brains and bodies of children. Is it safe? If so, where do we draw the line? What are the limitations?

I ask not because I don’t necessarily know the answers – my slightly educated opinion tends to believe that rolling, wrestling, and limited muay thai training is perfectly fine for children. I ask because I think this is something the sport of MMA really needs to think about and have an answer for.

MMA isn’t just about the live events anymore – it’s now truly becoming a lifestyle. It’s the way we talk, the way we dress, the activities we undertake, the music we listen to, and the people we spend our time with. The more this lifestyle is perpetuated – with things like UFC Gyms, the ubiquity of Tapout and Affliction clothing, etc – the more we’re going to see participation from those of all ages.

Someone is going to inevitably call MMA on the participation of children, and the sport needs to be ready to answer that call unequivocally.

Note: Give Tapout a pass for the near eye-rolling amount of product placement. The company has done a lot for the sport of MMA, and they likely funded the entire production. It should get some promo out of the film.

MMAterial Facts (02/22/10)

February 22, 2010

  • Madison Square Garden and Bellator Partner Up
  • UFC 110: Payout Perspective
  • Starting with UFC 111, MMA events to be shown in 300 movie theaters
  • Dana White: MMA is Bigger and Better
  • ‘Smell the blood!’ The sickening roar for gore

Madison Square Garden and Bellator Partner Up

Madison Square Garden has formed a co-promotional agreement with Bellator Fighting Championships to bring a total of four nationally televised Bellator events to two of the most historic and prestigious theaters in the United States, the Chicago Theatre and the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre in Boston.

The events — which will be broadcast on FOX Sports Net, NBC and Telemundo — will be staged at the legendary Chicago Theatre and the famed Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre in Boston, the same grand and majestic venues that, over the years, have hosted a collection of the world’s top entertainers including Frank Sinatra, Prince, Beyonce, Kanye West, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Neil Young, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and countless others.

“The Madison Square Garden name is synonymous with the greatest sports and entertainment events in U.S. history,” said Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney. “Moreover, these MSG venues, the Chicago Theatre and the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre, are synonymous with the history and culture of their respective cities. We are thrilled to be aligning Bellator with these magnificent brands to bring world class, nationally televised mixed martial arts to Chicago, Boston, and the entire country.”

“Madison Square Garden is excited to bring the world’s fastest-growing sport to these historic venues,” said Joel Fisher, Madison Square Garden’s Executive Vice President of Sports Bookings and Arena Renovation. “We look forward to four great nights of action-packed fights in these legendary locations for the thousands who will be in attendance and the millions watching on FOX Sports Net, NBC, and Telemundo around the country.”  (PRESS RELEASE)

***

MMA PROMOTION BELLATOR TO STAGE EVENTS AT MSG-OWNED VENUES

MSG today announced that it has agreed to a deal with MMA promotion Bellator Fighting Championships to bring four Bellator events to the Chicago Theatre and Boston ‘s Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre. The events will air on FSN, NBC and Telemundo (MSG). The deal “would seem to open the door for a possible Bellator event” at MSG, though MMA remains unregulated in the state of New York (MMAJUNKIE.com, 2/22)… (Sports Business Daily).

UFC 110: Payout Perspective

The UFC’s approach to sponsorship understandably changes when it ventures internationally, so we saw a slightly different approach to cage mat sponsorship at the event. Gamefly.com took the center octagon sponsorship, but was joined by a host of smaller logo sponsorships on the periphery (including new comers USAToday.com  and SI.com). The event was sponsored by a new television series on the FX network, Justified, set to debut in March.

Something to keep an eye on as the UFC continues to expand internationally is the exclusivity of its sponsorship contracts. MMAPayout.com talked about the emerging technologies that might allow the UFC to offer unique sponsorship packages to different broadcasts throughout the world, which would obviously boost revenues. If the organization can pair down its contracts to exclusivity by region, it may have an opportunity to utilize green screen technology to give, for example, English, Hispanic, Arabic, Korean, and Japanese feeds different title sponsors. (MMAPayout’s Perspective)

***

UFC DRAWS SELLOUT CROWD IN SYDNEY ; WHITE PROMISES RETURN TO AUSTRALIA

UFC 110 this weekend drew a sellout crowd of 17,431 at Acer Arena in Sydney , Australia (Mult., 2/21). UFC President Dana White “promised to return Down Under each year.” The event grossed about US$4.5M at the venue, setting arena records for the “biggest grossing event and greatest merchandise sales.” If UFC officials “can convince the Victorian government to … lift its ban on cage fighting, the next Australian event will be in Melbourne ” (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 2/22)… (Sports Business Daily)

***

UFC 110’s reported attendance qualifies as highest-ever for UFC outside of North America

While the UFC’s first-ever trip to Australia certainly delivered on in-cage action, “UFC 110: Nogueira vs. Velasquez” didn’t do too bad at the box office, either.

At the UFC 100 post-event press conference, UFC president Dana White said the event drew 17,831 attendees to Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia, for a reported $2.5 million gate.

While attendance figures outside of North America are rarely certified by local commissions, the reported figure marks the highest total ever claimed by the UFC for an event outside of North America.

The event was the second-fastest sell-out in UFC history according to White, and every ticket had been purchased within just one hour of going on sale.

The attendance figure included 400 fans who purchased tickets for a special viewing party in a ballroom at the Acer Arena.

In addition to the UFC company mark, UFC 110’s attendance also broke a few Acer Arena records according to White.

The UFC exec said the UFC 110 gate qualified it as the highest-grossing sporting event in Acer Arena history, while the merchandise sales bested the arena’s previous record set when rock band Iron Maiden played the facility.   (MMAJunkie)

Starting with UFC 111, MMA events to be shown in 300 movie theaters

The UFC is headed to the big screen.

The mixed martial arts league has reached a deal to showcase its main events at over 300 movie theaters, starting with UFC 111 on March 27. The UFC announced the deal to The Associated Press on Monday.

Although the UFC experimented with big-screen presentations for its fights in Britain for several years, this stateside deal follows the financial success of Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s victory over Juan Manuel Marquez in 170 movie theaters last September.

“I’m always interested in distribution, in finding new ways to get UFC to people,” UFC president Dana White said. “My philosophy is always that we haven’t scratched how big this is going to be, because we haven’t got it into the mainstream yet. This is just another way to do that. I’m anxious to put it out there in theaters and see what happens.”

White said he isn’t worried about harming the UFC’s pay-per-view revenue by making the fights available for the price of a theater ticket that will cost less than buying the fight at home. He believes boxing hurt itself in recent years by making its biggest fights only available on pay-per-view instead of creating alternative ways to watch, including the UFC’s extensive business on the Internet. (LA Times)

***

UFC Debuts Live on Big Screen in HD with UFC 111

For the first time in UFC® history, UFC fans can head to their local movie theater and take in all the action in the Octagon™, live and broadcast in high definition on the big screen starting with UFC 111: St- Pierre vs. Hardy on Saturday, March 27 at 10:00 p.m. Eastern / 7:00 p.m. Pacific.

Dana White, UFC President, today announced the UFC has closed a deal with NCM Fathom to present a series of live UFC fights in more than 300 select movie theaters nationwide, as well as plans to have UFC fighters host screenings in various markets.  Tickets are available to this special in-theater event at www.FathomEvents.com and presenting theater box offices.  For a complete list of theater locations and prices, please visit the web site (theaters and participants are subject to change).

“This is an opportunity to provide our fans with another cool way to watch UFC programming on the big-screen, live, in high-def and in surround sound,” said White.  “UFC 111 has a stacked undercard and St-Pierre vs. Hardy and Mir vs. Carwin are both title fights, so this is the perfect event to kick off our new deal with NCM Fathom.”

UFC 111: St- Pierre vs. Hardy features reigning UFC welterweight champion Georges “Rush” St-Pierre vs. British bomber Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy and former heavyweight champion Frank Mir vs. number one contender Shane Carwin for the interim UFC heavyweight title. In addition, theater-goers can watch the entire UFC 111 live card, including welterweights Jon Fitch vs. Thiago Alves, lightweights Jim Miller vs. Mark Bocek and welterweights Ben Saunders vs. Jake Ellenberger.

“Fathom audiences have long been waiting to see UFC events in their local theaters around the country and now, for the first time, fans can experience the action-packed excitement of the UFC on the big screen in pure high definition,” said Dan Diamond, vice president of NCM Fathom. “Teaming up with the UFC for this series is a major milestone for our alternative program schedule in movie theaters and promises to give fans an intense opportunity to cheer on their favorite fighters, front row center.”

Broadcast live from the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, UFC 111: St- Pierre vs. Hardy will be shown in more than 300 select movie theaters including AMC Entertainment Inc., Celebration! Cinema, Cinemark USA Inc., Clearview Cinemas, Cobb Theatres, Goodrich Quality Theatres, Hollywood Theaters, Kerasotes Showplace Theatres, Marcus Theatres, National Amusements and Regal Entertainment Group movie theaters, as well as the Carolina Theatre (Asheville, NC), Palace Cinema 9 (South Burlington, VT) and Penn Cinema (Lititz, PA), through NCM’s exclusive Digital Broadcast Network – North America’s largest cinema broadcast network.  (PRESS RELEASE)

Dana White: MMA is Bigger and Better

DANA White believes that MMA is now one of the world’s most popular sports after UFC’s record-breaking visit Down Under.

Last weekend UFC 110 in Sydney saw the company’s biggest-ever attendance outside North America.

A total of 17,831 fans crammed into the Acer Arena, leaving UFC  president White saying: “That shows the universal appeal of MMA.”

That figure beat the previous best of 16,639 set at Manchester’s MEN Arena last November and produced gate receipts of $2.5m.

White added: “The UFC is beginning to take its place among the biggest sports in the world. In the USA, Canada, Germany, Ireland, the UK and now Australia, the UFC is breaking records and selling out the biggest venues wherever we go.”

“The UFC is already the biggest indoor sport in the UK and with the huge event in Sydney at the weekend, it shows the universal  appeal of MMA.”  (Daily Star)

‘Smell the blood!’ The sickening roar for gore

“Smell the blood, baby!” he screams at his man, Krzysztof “the Polish Experiment” Soszynski. “Smell the blood!”

Within seconds Soszynski doesn’t have to sniff too hard because, after a clash of heads, the blood from a new gash high on Bonnar’s forehead is so deep that his red essence is gushing out of him and soon both fighters are covered in it from top to toe. This appears to interest the referee mildly, but no more than that. Still they go at it, and when Bonnar briefly goes down, the ref has to jump out of the way so that Soszynski can properly get at him, and bash him some more.

Welcome to something called the Ultimate Fighting Championship which, as well as claiming to be the world’s fastest-growing sport, made its debut in Australia yesterday on a schedule suited to the American pay-per-view prime-time Saturday night audience.

A cross between Fight Club, rock’n’roll, a vicious bar-room brawl and the fall of Saigon, the idea is that this is “multi-discipline fighting” – across three five-minute rounds – incorporating everything from boxing to wrestling, kick-boxing to karate, judo to jujitsu to just about anything else you can think of, including choke holds, and …

This is as far from professional wrestling’s tightly choreographed theatrical fighting. These are deadly serious contests fought by highly skilled men. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea – and it will be the last bout I’ll attend – but it looks like we might have moved into an age when tens of thousands of people no longer want cups of tea. They want buckets of blood. (Sydney Morning Herald)

IMAGE OF THE DAY

Brock Lesnar Fathead

QUOTE OF THE DAY

If you want to understand more about value and athletes, look no further than Mixed Martial Arts.  I met with a lot of people who repeatedly told me that the UFC underpaid their athletes.  That by paying the best fighters more,  you could draw the same size crowds to arenas and buyers to PPV. It was an expensive lesson to learn how wrong they were.  Pro sports are just one of an unlimited number of entertainment options.  To get MMA fans to pay to watch a fight or to get them to the arena  is not just about having the best fighters, its about great marketing. Its about making a very significant investment in brand building and showmanship. Its about understanding how to connect to fans.  Its a lesson in recognizing that while the leagues or in this case the UFC enable their best to become big stars, they recognize that the business behind the stars must be vibrant and profitable before anyone can be successful.  The same can be applied to the big 4 professional sports.  Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that many in the big 4 sports leagues, whether agent, player, management or owner have come to recognize this fact.  (Mark Cuban, Blog Maverick)

QUICK HITS

  • Blog: UFC 110 Post-Mortem(Sherdog)
  • Mir Wants to Break Lesnar’s Neck in Octagon (MMAFighting)
  • Fathead-UFC line includes Lesnar, St-Pierre, Silva, Penn, Jones, Dos Santos, Marquardt (MMAJunkie)
  • Josh Barnett’s appeal with CSAC delayed fourth time after fighter no-shows hearing (MMAJunkie)
  • Replay dates set for Spike TV’s “UFC Primetime: GSP vs. Hardy” three-part series (MMAJunkie)
  • Update: Filho Back in Against Sasaki (Sherdog)
  • Inside Compustrike Numbers for UFC 110 (MMAFighting)
  • UFC 111 Prelims Announced (MMAPayout Perspective)
  • VARNER LIKELY TO MEET SHALORUS AT WEC PPV  (MMAWeekly)
  • HASHI WANTS TO CRUSH KAUFMAN TO WIN TITLE  (MMAWeekly)
  • Look out heavyweights! Velasquez is ready for title shot (Cage Writer)
  • Several Opponent Options for UFC 110 Winners (Heavy)
  • Jacob Volkmann cuts to 155 to face Ronys Torres at UFC Fight Night 21 (FiveOuncesOfPain)

TV LISTINGS

  • HDNet Fights Presents K-1 Classics (Hari vs Bonjasky) at 8 PM ET on HDNet (02/26/10)
  • InsideMMA (Dominick Cruz, Alan Belcher and Karen Darabedyan) at 9 PM ET on HDNet (02/26/10)
  • HDNet Fights Presents The Featherweights, Vol. 2, at 10 PM ET on HDNet (02/26/10)
  • Best of Pride FC at 10 PM ET/PT on Spike (02/26/10)
  • Strikeforce Challengers: Kaufman vs Hashi at 11 PM ET/PT on Showtime (02/26/10)

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Strikeforce Challengers: Kaufman vs Hashi at 11 PM ET/PT on Showtime (02/26/10)
  • WEC 47: Bowles vs Cruz on at 10 PM ET on Versus (03/06/10)
  • HDNet Fights: Sengoku Raiden Championship 12 at TBD on HDNet (03/12/10)
  • HDNet Fights: XFC X-Night of Champions at 10 PM ET on HDNet (03/19/10)
  • UFC on Versus: Vera vs Jones at 10 PM ET on Versus (3/21/10)
  • HDNet Fights: King of the Cage – Legacy at 10 PM ET on HDNet (03/26/10)
  • Strikeforce Challengers: Johnson vs Mahe at 11 PM ET/PT on Showtime (03/26/10)
  • UFC 111: GSP vs Hardy at 10 PM ET on PPV (03/27/10)
  • UFN 21 : Florian vs Gomi at 10 PM ET on Spike (03/31/10)
  • The Ultimate Fighter 11 Debut after UFN 21 on Spike (03/31/10)

UFC 111 Prelims Announced

February 22, 2010

Spike TV has announced it will broadcast UFC Prelims on Spike for UFC 111. The program will feature two welterweight fights: Matt Brown vs. Ricardo Almeida and Rory Markham vs. Nate Diaz.

SPIKE TV TO TELECAST SELECTED FIGHTS FROM UFC 111 PRELIMS SATURDAY, MARCH 27

 

Matt Brown vs Ricardo Almeida,
Rory Markham vs Nate Diaz To Be Featured

 

New York, NY, February 22, 2010 – Spike TV will telecast live undercard bouts from UFC 111: ST. PIERRE vs. HARDY on Saturday, March 27 at 9:00 PM ET/6:00 PM PT from the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The one-hour telecast will run with limited commercial interruption. UFC 111 will air on pay-per-view at 10:00 PM ET.

 

The first bout scheduled to air on Spike TV is a welterweight contest between Matt “The Immortal” Brown (13-7) and Ricardo Almeida (11-3). Brown has become a fan favorite since his stint on Season 7 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” as his relentless style and devastating striking ability has garnered him a 4-1 record in the UFC, with all wins coming via TKO or submission. He is currently riding a string of three straight dominant performances against Ryan Thomas at UFC 91, Pete Sell at UFC 96 and, most recently, James Wilks at UFC 105. The Cincinnati based fighter will now look to put himself in the title picture with a fourth consecutive victory. Standing in his way will be a man fighting in his own backyard, Hamilton, NJ’s Ricardo “Big Dog” Almeida. The winner of two straight bouts coming into his matchup with Brown, most recently against Kendall Grove at UFC 101 this past August, this Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt will look to use his strong ground game to make a successful debut in the UFC’s welterweight division after years of fighting at middleweight.

 

The evening’s second televised bout is also in the welterweight division, and pits Rory Markham (16-5) against Nate Diaz (11-5). Markham, one of the game’s premier knockout artists, will look to use his immense punching power to stop his opponent, Diaz on March 27th. The winner of “The Ultimate Fighter 5,” Stockton, CA based Diaz has amassed a 6-3 record in the UFC in less than three years, and his fight with Markham will see him transition from lightweight to welterweight, where he hopes his added power will augment his effective Cesar Gracie taught Jiu-Jitsu skills in stopping Markham and setting him on his way to welterweight gold.

 

Other bouts on the card might air on Spike TV, to be determined by the length of the fights.

Payout Perspective:

The Prelim Shows have been successful from a ratings perspective as the number of viewers has generally risen with each successive show. However, it’s been more difficult to determine whether the show is actually driving viewers to the PPV that follows the free broadcast.

Regardless, it’s free MMA on TV for the consumer; and, the ratings are such that the UFC, Spike, and their advertisers are happy.

Cuban: FCC Could Change TV Landscape

February 22, 2010

Mark Cuban, the billionaire tech entrepreneur and eccentric owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, writes in his latest Maverick Blog about how potential regulatory decisions made by the FCC could drastically influence the future of network television and change the way people consume their entertainment.

Sports fans probably are not paying attention to what is happening with broadcast television.  The over the air broadcast networks, all of which are the biggest customers of the NFL (CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC/ESPN) are now pushing TV Providers (cable, telco and satellite), to pay retransmission fees. In other words, the broadcast networks want to be paid for every TV Provider subscriber, just like cable networks get paid.  It’s a reasonable request in many ways. But there is a flip-side.

 

The ability to send their network signal over the air to TVs (to be received without paying a TV Provider) is a right that is regulated by the FCC. The FCC is also in charge of the Broadband Initiative in the US.  Whats the connection?  The same spectrum that the broadcast networks use to send their digital tv signal over the air to TVs could be re-allocated to the broadband initiative.  Which is more important to US Citizens, over the air TV stations or more wireless broadband bandwidth ?  Its a simple question with no simple answer.  What is absolutely certain is that a very convincing argument could be made that wireless bandwidth is more important than over the air TV.

 

If this argument wins, the amount of spectrum to TV stations could be minimally cut, impacting the picture quality of their signal. It could be reduced substantially, severely impacting the quality, leaving just enough for a basic Standard Definition quality signal, or it could be cut 100pct with a subsidy being provided so that that the formerly over the air signals could be received over the broadband bandwidth or from an existing TV Provider. In any of these scenarios. it could be a big problem for the NFL. All NFL regular and post season games are currently broadcast on over the air stations.  If the business and delivery of those over the air stations changes substantially, the economics of the NFL could change substantially.

 

Do you think the NFL and the NFL Players Association are building this scenario into their models as they negotiate their new CBA (collective bargaining agreement)? They should, it has a far better than zero chance of occuring in the next 5 years.

Payout Perspective:

Networks like NBC and CBS are getting outbid by ESPN – a cable network – for sports programming, because of the dual revenue stream (advertising and fee-per-subscriber) that ESPN enjoys. These networks simply don’t have the money to bid, nor the capability to leverage the sports content into as much revenue. It’s almost become a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts: the fees and advertising allow ESPN to bid for superior content; that content drives higher revenues in the form of fees and advertising; and, those greater revenues again allow ESPN to bid more for superior content.

Thus, it’s only natural for these major networks to want their cut.

However, if the spectrum changes and shifts towards broadband, these networks are likely to suffer even more. That not only jeopardizes the position of these networks, but other sports properties like the NFL whose business models are so well-tied to that distribution method.

How does this effect an MMA property like the UFC? It provides more incentive for them to stick with ESPN, rather than pursue a a deal with a major network (aside from, perhaps, a deal with ABC which owns ESPN). But it also emphasizes the importance of continuing to develop a strong online distribution medium.

The operating environment that exists today will change – it’s a certainty. Nobody knows when or how, exactly, but it will change. Hedging risk through preparation and contingency planning, as Mark points out, is the key to succeeding in the future.

Note: Read the entire article for Mark’s take on why MMA has been so successful. Good points about risk management – or lack thereof – in professional sports today.

UFC 110: Payout Perspective

February 22, 2010

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective! This week we’ll be taking a look at the UFC’s first event in Australia, UFC 110, held on Sunday, February 21st from the Acer Arena in Sydney (but shown live on PPV in North America on Saturday). The event featured a heavyweight contender’s match between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Cain Velasquez, in addition to a middleweight showdown between Wanderlei Silva and Michael Bisping.

UFC 110 by the Numbers

Attendance/Gate

The announced attendance for the fight was 17,431, which drew a live gate of approximately $2.2 million US ($2.5m AUD).

Disclosed Payouts

Unlikely to be released.

Disclosed Bonuses

Fight of the Night: George Sortiropoul0s vs. Joe Stevenson ($50,000 each)
Knockout of the Night: Cain Velasquez ($50,000)
Submission of the Night: Chris Lytle ($50,000)

Total Disclosed Bonuses: $200,000

PPV Buyrate Prediction:

The numbers for UFC 110 are again pretty strong with the live gate generating approximately $2.2 million US and Countdown to UFC 110 drawing 635,000 viewers. However, the countdown viewership has been skewing unusually high lately as the result of Spike’s new strategy to schedule the show immediately following large demographical lead-ins from other related content like other MMA or wrestling programs. Thus, I’ve decided to weight the prediction with a 75-25 skew towards the gate (traditionally a less volatile indicator than the countdown ratings).

When you plug the figures into the linear equation derived from a regression analysis you’re left with the following range:

  • UFC 110 gate prediction: 412,000
  • UFC 110 countdown prediction: 570,000
  • Weighted average: 452,000

The expectations for this card weren’t superb in terms of its ability to sell. Indeed, 450,000 seems to be the ceiling for a card of this caliber and hype. However, let’s take a look at some of the factors that may have influenced the buyrate one way or another.

+ Strongest card on paper since UFC 107
+ The UFC did a very good job of promoting the fact it was taking its show on the road; may have drawn a part of that casual crowd, curious to see what all the international fuss is about.
+ Nogueira  isn’t the tremendously weak draw that everyone believes him to be; he’s co-headlined two shows that surpassed 600k, and was last seen in a candidate for 2009 fight of the year when he beat Randy Couture at UFC 102. Also don’t forget he did TUF with Mir.
— On the other hand, there was again no title match on the card. These make all the difference in the world where buyrates are concerned.
— The live gate may be inflated by the fact that it was the UFC’s first-ever time in Australia. If you discount the gate by 20% you’re looking at a new weighted average of 390,000.

Greg Saks of Tapology.com has predicted 355,000 buys using his online buzz indicators.

Business Story Lines

Velasquez dominant, heavyweight division looking tough

Velasquez has officially jumped the chasm from being touted prospect to legitimate title contender. He keeps getting better with each and every fight, and to dismantle a legend like Nogeuira the way he did was very impressive. Granted, Nogueira’s chin threshold has lowered substantially – the man that used to be able to take a beating, no longer can – but he’s still a formidable top 10 opponent.

Now things are looking very interesting in the heavyweight division. Velasquez will likely get a crack at Lesnar (or whomever the champion happens to be) at some point this year. He also joins a slew of capable threats at the top of the division (including Mir, Carwin, and Dos Santos), which gives the UFC heavyweights a look and feel that it’s probably never had before – depth.

If Lesnar’s ability to draw is any indication, the public is very much interested in seeing these gargantuan men collide in the cage. Thus, while the growth of the UFC and MMA has yet to be paced by the success of the heavyweight division, the big men will likely play an increasingly critical role in driving interest and sales in the future.

Velasquez has immense potential to help draw Hispanic audience into MMA

Velasquez claims Salinas, CA to be home, but he’s very proud and in-tune with his Mexican heritage. The importance of this fact should not be understated, because the UFC is trying to attract the hispanic demographic (traditionally a very strong supporter of boxing) and possibly expand into Mexico with a live show in the next few years.

The marketing study performed by Damon et al talked about vicarious achievement, which is essentially a fan experiencing a degree of perceived achievement just by watching his/her favorite fighter succeed. The study suggested this was a strong motivator for the consumption of MMA, but I propose – strictly through my own observations – that the effects of vicarious achievement are even stronger within MMA’s minority demographics. The Hispanic audience doesn’t just like boxing, it likes cheering for Hispanic boxers.

Thus, perhaps the key to success in terms of attracting the Hispanic demographic is to utilize fighters like Cain Velasquez and Efrain Escudero to help build that market. Similarly, judging by the reaction that George Sortiropoulos was given by his hometown crowd (or even what GSP receives in Canada) the effects of this vicarious achievement may become even more important for the growth of MMA as it increasingly becomes an international sport.

Mixed reviews from Australian media

The Good: Dan Koch, The Australian, Ultimate Fighting Championship Takes Center Stage

The Bad: Peter Fitzsimons, Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Smell the blood!’ The Sickening Roar for Gore

UFC breaks Acer Arena records

According to Dana White, the UFC broke arena records for highest grossing event and highest merchandise sales. UFC 110 was also the second fastest sellout in UFC history when tickets vanished in little over an hour (Montreal owns the top spot with something like six minutes).

UFC plans annual event in Australia

The UFC’s debut in Australia was so successful that the organization is hoping to hold an event in the country on an annual basis. This is something we’d heard talk of before the event, but White confirmed as much at the post-fight press conference. Melbourne is the target destination, but the market has yet to be sanctioned. Perth is the other location being discussed.

Not only was the show a success in terms of the tremendous response the UFC received from the fans in Australia, but the event performed so well in terms of entertainment value that it’s hard to believe the UFC didn’t make a host of new fans watching the event on TV throughout the country. It helps, of course, that the fight of the night came from the performance of an Aussie.

Prospect Watch

UFC 110 showcased a plethora of young fighting prospects, so understandably the results weren’t all positive. Cain Velasquez obviously stepped up and shed his prospect status, becoming a bona fide title contender at 265lbs. Further success was had by Sortiropoulos, Bader, and Dollaway – the former two are now ready to face top ten fighters, while the latter secured a much needed victory to remain in the UFC. Unfortunately, the night wasn’t as positive for Goran Reljic and Brian Foster; each man will look to re-group but neither is likely in danger of being cut loose.

Sponsorship Watch

The UFC’s approach to sponsorship understandably changes when it ventures internationally, so we saw a slightly different approach to cage mat sponsorship at the event. Gamefly.com took the center octagon sponsorship, but was joined by a host of smaller logo sponsorships on the periphery (including new comers USAToday.com  and SI.com). The event was sponsored by a new television series on the FX network, Justified, set to debut in March.

Something to keep an eye on as the UFC continues to expand internationally is the exclusivity of its sponsorship contracts. MMAPayout.com talked about the emerging technologies that might allow the UFC to offer unique sponsorship packages to different broadcasts throughout the world, which would obviously boost revenues. If the organization can pair down its contracts to exclusivity by region, it may have an opportunity to utilize green screen technology to give, for example, English, Hispanic, Arabic, Korean, and Japanese feeds different title sponsors.

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