UFC 115 PPV Prediction: 460,000

June 22, 2010

MMAPayout.com uses statistical regression analysis to match both the viewership numbers from Spike TV’s Countdown to UFC and the live gate figures reported by athletic commissions against the PPV buyrate numbers for each UFC event. The analysis produces a linear equation, which can then be used to take new Countdown or gate information and predict a PPV outcome.

The Data

We’ll be using both the Countdown to UFC and live gate figures from UFC 115 in this week’s regression analysis, but it’s worth noting that the nature of the UFC’s debut in Vancouver has made the live gate a less reliable indicator than normal (it’s generally the more volatile of the two):

Countdown to UFC 115: 453,000
Live gate: $4.2 million

The Prediction

The prediction process starts with the data set below; each symbol represents the PPV figure (vertical axis) and Countdown to UFC figure (horizontal axis) for an event in the last four years.

Then the numbers are plugged into a regression analysis formula to derive a linear line through the data set, which allows us to pick a certain Countdown figure (on the horizontal axis) and find the corresponding PPV prediction value (on the vertical axis):

When we plug in 453,000 viewers into the linear equation – represented by the red line above – we’re given a value of 371,000 PPV buys. The same process is performed with the live gate data and results in an estimate of 739,000. Then we plug the two figures into an equal weighted average (50% each, for now) to get our preliminary estimate:

  • Countdown to UFC 115 prediction: 371,000
  • UFC 115 live gate prediction: 739,000
  • Equal weighted average prediction: 555,000

The Argument for 555,000:

  • TUF 11: the Ultimate Fighter has always proven to be an effective marketing tool for PPV events and there’s no reason to believe this season (that experienced a slight up-tick in ratings compared to previous non-Kimbo seasons) was any less effective.
  • Chuck Liddell: he’s the most popular fighter in UFC history and will always draw some interest. Coming off a full season of TUF promotion, the UFC likely managed to evoke a degree of nostalgia in its fans.
  • PPV momentum: the UFC typically sells in cycles, and its currently running a streak of four shows in a row that have sold 500k or more. The many fans that tuned in for UFC 114 might have been persuaded to give Chuck Liddell one more chance.
  • Media exposure: the UFC is at an all-time high where media exposure is concerned. ESPN is now dedicating one hour per week to the sport and the UFC is likely still benefiting from all the press it’s been getting from the release of its video game (even if the sales figures have failed to meet analyst expectations).

The Argument Against 555,000:

  • Normally, a gate of $4.2 million would indicate serious North American interest in a fight card, but this is a special case where the live gate is more a reflection of, or testament to, the strength of the Vancouver (Canadian) market than anything else. The gate being so high probably skewed the weighted average prediction higher than what it should be.
  • Chuck Liddell: part of Chuck’s appeal was his ability to back up his menacing look with downright scary punching power, but without the ability to knock people out, the entire package has become less appealing to the fans.
  • PPV momentum: the upswing in UFC PPV buys has to stop or slow at some point, and UFC 115 is the most likely event for such a slow down to occur. Just look at the events from UFC 111 clear to UFC 118 – it’s easy to identify the weak link in the chain.
  • The NBA Finals: the casual market was likely still tied up in an NBA Finals that turned into a barn burner of a series that went seven games.
  • UFC 115 a non-title fight: it’s a fact that non-title fights far under-perform title fights (the average being 370k to ~600k).

Conclusion: 555,000 likely a little too high

The event will probably generate a buy rate above the 400,000 mark, because the UFC likely benefited from some of its momentum and some great media exposure in May. However, the argument against 555,000 is pretty strong and it would seem a long shot that this fight does that well (note: although Dave Meltzer is reporting trending estimates at 520k).

If we adjust the weighted average to reflect a more accurate allotment (something like 75-25 in favor of the Countdown show, which is typically what we do when one of the variables is skewed), we arrive at a final prediction of 460,000 buys.

3 Responses to “UFC 115 PPV Prediction: 460,000”

  1. Stan Kosek on June 22nd, 2010 3:24 PM

    seem to be in the neighborhood of Meltzer’s early reports of 520k

  2. Stan Kosek on June 23rd, 2010 12:41 PM

    FWIW, Meltzer has updated his 114 buys to overly 1m reportedly

  3. Stan Kosek on June 23rd, 2010 12:42 PM

    over 1m, sorry, typed too fast!!

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