TUF 13 ratings for Episode 1: 1.5 million viewers

March 31, 2011

MMA Payout has confirmed from Spike TV that the premiere episode of The Ultimate Fighter 13 scored an audience average of 1.5 million viewers. The show was the top rated cable show for its time slot in the key demographics of M18-34 and M18-49.

TUF earned a 1.51 in M18-49, a 1.93 in M18-34, and 1.0 household average. The repeat received 633,000 viewers.

In comparison to prior TUF debuts, the Kimbo Slice TUF received 4.1 million viewers. TUF 12 received 1.6 million.

Payout Perspective:

The episode featured the kinder, gentler Brock Lesnar and the affable Junior dos Santos. There does not seem to be Ken-Tito, Rashard-Rampage or Matt-Matt heat this season. Will this be a detriment to the viewership? If Lesnar-JDS do not provide the heat, it would be up to the contestants to provide viewers something to watch. It will be interesting to see how this season does.

Rebney not concerned with Bellator ratings dip

March 31, 2011

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney is not concerned with the latest dip in ratings according to MMA Junkie. Rebney indicated he is concerned more with building the brand than the latest television numbers.

Via MMA Junkie:

“What we’re doing in terms of building out this brand and this partnership with MTV2 and MTV networks, this is a marathon – this is not a sprint,” he said.

So, the executive is not sweating week-to-week fluctuations.

“What I’m getting drawn up in is improving the quality of our production, increasing the quality of our fights, and trying to make this bigger and better,” Rebney said. “The fights we’ve got coming up over the next four weeks are just blistering, so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens and what kind of impact that has both in terms of live event attendance and the ratings we do.”

Just wondering, can the Gracies show us the inverted triangle choke on Youtube?

Bellator has faced stiff competition from the UFC and NCAA March Madness in the past couple weeks causing the ratings to dip. Yet, Bellator points to Youtube as a positive sign.

YouTube videos featuring Bellator highlights continue to be a counterpunch to the challenges in building an audience. The most recent win for the promotion on that front was this past Saturday’s clip of Richard Hale’s inverted triangle submission over Nik Fekete, which Rebney said is around 140,000 hits on the video channel. (MMA Junkie)

To combat the UFC fights on Saturday night, Bellator has moved its time slot to avoid direct competition. But Rebney stated that this may have actually hurt viewership.

Fight Opinion explains:

The obvious point to make regarding Bellator’s ratings on MTV2 is that the idea of moving the show around on Saturday nights and not having a consistent timeslot because you want to avoid running head-to-head against Zuffa is a bad idea. Yes, people who watch Bellator are aware of what is happening with the UFC. However, you can’t confuse your fans and make it a struggle for them to figure out when to tune in, how to find you on their DVR, so on and so forth. If accessing your show becomes any sort of challenge or requires any sort of effort (Americans can be lazy), it will hurt the ratings. If you’re a half-glass full person, I suppose you can say that Bellator retained 75% of their viewers despite the moving time slot.

Payout Perspective:

Rebney has the correct attitude in addressing the ratings dip. While the numbers are disappointing, there are obvious factors involved in the low ratings. What is disappointing is that M-1 on Showtime on Friday night outdrew Bellator with little promotion. M-1 drew 189,00 viewers versus Bellator’s 150,000. Yet, Rebney recognizes that its a marathon not a sprint and the long-term plans of brand building means more than short-term ratings. It appears that MTV2 will give Bellator the time to build.

Another point here is that Rebney recognizes that the time slot shifting is not a good idea as Zach Arnold points out. This shows that Bellator is actively recalibrating its strategy. Also, embracing Youtube should be a good thing. While we recently have seen the UFC protect its copyright interests against unauthorized use of its content, Bellator could use this as a marketing tool. Perhaps Bellator works a deal with the Gracies or someone else in having a BJJ breakdown on Bellator’s own Youtube channel. This could draw interests from fans.

Gracie Channel shut down by YouTube

March 30, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that YouTube has shut down the Gracie Academy channel on YouTube. The UFC made a claim of copyright infringement due to the unauthorized use of copyrighted content. It was the channel’s third complaint which caused it to be shut down.


Ryron and Rener Gracie used to post up videos to their “GracieAcademy” Youtube account breaking down the intricacies of popular MMA submission victories. They went into great detail about how positions were achieved and what could have been done to avoid/escape the finishing hold.

Via MMA Junkie:

(Rener) Gracie, the son of UFC co-creator Rorian Gracie, produced a series of videos for YouTube with his brother Ryron that he said were meant to educate and entice MMA fans by demonstrating techniques used in the UFC. The videos, which he said drew between 50,000 and 100,000 views per episode, often included snippets of footage from UFC fights.

Although White said the UFC’s Las Vegas office had no part in it, YouTube on Monday shut down the Gracie Academy channel as part of its policy on users with multiple copyright infringement claims against them. The channel had previously drawn two claims from 20th Century Fox for copyrighted music.

Gracie believed the length of the UFC clips used – no more than seven seconds – put them in the category of “fair use” in U.S. copyright law, which allows for limited use of copyrighted material in certain circumstances without prior permission from its owners.

Ironically, the UFC is releasing, “UFC: Ultimate Royce Gracie” DVD. White indicated that the UFC paid Rorian Gracie a licensing fee for the footage used in the DVD.

Payout Perspective:

Although the Gracie name is synonymous with the UFC and MMA, White had to do what was right in protecting the interests of the UFC. if the UFC is taking a zero tolerance stance against piracy, it had to come down on the channel. However, as pointed out by Kelsey Philpott, it would have been nice if Zuffa could have partnered with the Gracies in embracing the channel and leverage its use to educate and attract more fans to the sport.  Many fans of the sport and BJJ enthusiasts flocked to the channel after watching UFC fights to see how moves were done.

Arbitrator rules in favor of Top Rank in fight for Donaire

March 30, 2011

Yahoo! Sports is reporting that an arbitrator has ruled in favor of Top Rank Boxing in its fight to keep boxing star Nonito Donaire under contract. Donaire is currently the WBC and WBO Bantamweight champ.

Via Kevin Iole at Yahoo!:

Golden Boy signed Donaire after Donaire had declared that he was a free agent and available to sign with the promoter of his choice. Donaire filed suit in a Nevada court alleging that he is free of Top Rank, but Top Rank contends that is not the case. Petrocelli said Top Rank has yet to be served with Donaire’s Nevada lawsuit.

Top Rank signed Donaire to a three-year contract with a one-year option on June 26, 2008. But Donaire was on medical suspension for more than 300 days in the first year of the contract. Top Rank says there is a clause in its contract with Donaire that adds time onto the contract whenever a fighter is unable to perform because of suspension. That time clause is common in many fighters’ contracts.

As a result, Top Rank claims that its three-year contract thus runs into early June 2012 and that the one-year option, which it exercised, takes Donaire into June 2013.

The Fight Lawyer has a write-up on the breakup and a link to the legal papers.

Payout Perspective:

Nonito Donaire is the best Filipino fighter in the world not named Manny Pacquiao. He is a budding superstar in the lighter weight divisions of boxing and is a hot commodity. Golden Boy is in need of a young, fresh star and Donaire could be the next Filipino sensation to hit it big.

Taking a look at the Complaint, the issue deals with the Promotional Rights Agreement. Donaire asserts that the contract guaranteed that he would be offered three fights a year but he was only offered two, two years in a row. Top Rank claims that Donaire was injured for 300 days which extends the contract. However, Donaire claims that his medical records will show he was not hurt.

If the arbitration decision holds up, it will be interesting to see if Donaire will abide by the terms of the contract and how Top Rank will use Donaire.

UFC Fight Night Ratings: 2.4 million viewers

March 29, 2011

MMA Payout confirmed with Spike TV that ratings for Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night held in Seattle peaked at 2.4 million viewers. It was the most watched program on cable for the entire day in the key demographics of Men 18-34 and 18-49.

Via Spike TV press release:

Spike TV’s live UFC® Fight Night Live™ on Saturday, March 26 at 10p.m.-12:13a.m. ET was the most watched program on cable for the entire day in Men 18-34 and Men 18-49. Peaking with 2.4 million viewers at 11:15 p.m. for the Dan Hardy-Anthony Johnson bout, the event was the most watched UFC Fight Night since September 2009.

Overall, UFC® Fight Night 24™ delivered a 2.2 rating in Men 18-49, a 2.30 in Men 18-34, a 1.5 household rating, and attracted an average audience of 2.2 million viewers.  Compared to last year, the fight improved the timeslot ratings by triple digits including 315% in M18-49, +318% in M18-34, and +128% in viewership.

The broadcast was tape delayed on the west coast and did not play until 9pm. It actually was nice to come home from the fights and then watch them on Spike. It was probably annoying for those that could not watch the fights live.

Payout Perspective:

Would Tito Ortiz have bolstered the ratings for the event or did fill-in Phil Davis help? The high ratings should be attributed to the quality of fighters appearing on the card. Prior Fight Nights had more prospects on the card while the Seattle card had solid match-ups in Little ‘Nog-Davis, Hardy-Johnson and Zombie-Garcia II. The other bout included two former TUF alums in TUF winner Amir Sadollah versus DeMarques Johnson. Hopefully, future Fight Nights will have quality match-ups like the one in Seattle.

Bellator 38 ratings: 150,000 viewers

March 29, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator 38 ratings dipped for the second week in a row with an average of 150,000 viewers for its MTV2 broadcast. Despite moving its start time to avoid UFC Fight Night overlap, it still had low ratings.

Bellator’s replay airing at midnight the same night PT/ET drew 97,000 viewers.

Via MMA Junkie:

The first-run season-four ratings include:

  • Bellator 35 ratings: 200,000 viewers
  • Bellator 36 ratings: 230,000
  • Bellator 37 ratings: 173,000
  • Bellator 38 ratings: 150,000

Payout Perspective:

An inverted triangle choke couldn’t save the ratings this weekend for Bellator as it once against went up against the UFC and NCAA Basketball Saturday night. This weekend it will go up against the Final Four. However, Bellator has a strong card this weekend with Eddie Alvarez defending his title against Pat Curran. Hopefully for Bellator, being the only MMA show on TV will show a rebound in ratings.

Lesnar appearance on Jimmy Fallon

March 29, 2011

Brock Lesnar made an appearance on the Jimmy Fallon Show on NBC last night to promote his autobiography and The Ultimate Fighter 13 premiering this Wednesday. Unlike his previous promotion for his book, Lesnar was clean shaven, affable and played along with Jimmy Fallon.

Lesnar even participated in a “mini-skit” where he reverses a Fallon move and “chokes” Fallon out going to commercial. Obviously, Fallon is/was a wrestling fan and was able to work well with Lesnar.

Here is a video of the appearance:

Payout Perspective:

An impressive performance by Lesnar who looked much more media friendly. He was able to get out a brief synopsis of his autobiography as well as promote TUF. This Brock Lesnar can help the UFC crossover into mainstream awareness.

So, which late night performance did you like better. Brock Lesnar or Jon Jones?

Chael Sonnen Sentencing Postponed Until April 8, 2011

March 28, 2011

Following up on my post, Chael Sonnen Guilty Plea, I checked the docket and it appears that the Court adjourned Sonnen’s sentencing hearing from March 28, 2011 (i.e. today) to April 8, 2011.

As you may recall from my earlier post, here are some of the allegations from the Superseding Information:

On or about June 20, 2006, in the District of Oregon, CHAEL PATRICK SONNEN, defendant herein, did knowingly conduct and attempt to conduct a financial transaction affecting interstate commerce, to wit, he caused a check in the amount of $69,091.53 to be issued and negotiated from a bank account at U.S. Bank, which involved the proceeds of a specified unlawful activity, that is wire fraud. Defendant further knew that the financial transaction was designed in whole or in part to conceal or disguise the ownership and control of the proceeds of wire fraud, to wit, defendant and others devised and intended to devise a material scheme and artifice to defraud Decision One Mortgage, and to obtain money and property from Decision One Mortgage by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises, and that while conducting and attempting to conduct such financial transaction, defendant knew that the property involved in the financial transaction represented the proceeds of the unlawful activity, wire fraud.

In his Petition to Enter Plea of Guilty, Sonnen “represent[ed] that [he] did the following acts and that the following facts are true:”

On or about June 20, 2006, in the District of Oregon, I knowingly caused a check to be issued by USNB in the amount of $69,091.53 to Crown Plumbing from the mortgage loan proceeds at the closing of the [] sale of 11249 S.E. Rolling Hills. I knew that these funds would not be paid to Crown Plumbing, but kicked back to the buyer, []. The purpose of this transaction was to further a scheme to defraud Decision One Mortgage by representing that these funds paid for repairs on the residence.

In the Petition, Sonnen pled guilty to the following elements of the charge alleged against him:

(1) Defendant conducted a financial transaction involving property that represented the proceeds of wire fraud: (2) defendant knew that the property represented the proceeds of wire fraud: and (3) defendant knew that the transaction was designed in whole or in part to disguise the ownership and control of the proceeds of wire fraud. I have had a full and adequate opportunity to disclose to my attorney all facts known to me that relate to my case. I understand that the Court may ask whether I am satisfied with the advice I have received from my attorney.

The Petition also stated as follows:

I am not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. I am not suffering from any injury, illness or disability affecting my thinking or my ability to reason except as follows:  None. I have not taken any drugs or medications within the past seven (7) days except as follows: Testosterone and Ambien

In addition, in the Petition Sonnen indicated that he understood the maximum possible sentence:

I know the maximum sentence which can be imposed upon me for the crime to which I am pleading guilty is twenty years imprisonment and a fine of $500,000.  I also know there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 0 years imprisonment.

The Plea Agreement between Sonnen and the Government provides as follows:

The Parties agree and will recommend that defendant serve a two (2) year probationary sentence and pay a fine of $10,000. Defendant also agrees and understands that as a condition of this recommendation, defendant will take all necessary steps to administratively forfeit his license in the state of Oregon and any other state in which defendant is currently licensed to engage in the sale and purchase of real estate by the time of his sentencing. Failure to do so is a breach of this agreement. The parties agree that a term of probation along with the other terms outlined in this agreement meet the criteria of 18 U. S.C. §3553 because it adequately protects the public from defendant, who is unlikely to engage in further criminal conduct, it promotes respect for the law and it provides for just punishment as defendant is giving up his livelihood and accepting a felony record. Moreover, the sentence and terms of this agreement promote general deterrence as well.

I will continue to monitor.

Fight Lawyer

Justin Klein is a partner of the law firm Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke LLP in New York City where he concentrates his practice in commercial litigation and represents clients in the fight industry.  He regularly addresses current legal issues that pertain to combat sports, including efforts to legalize MMA in New York, at his Fight Lawyer website.  He is a licensed boxing manager with the New York State Athletic Commission as well as the founder and Chairman of the Board of the New York Mixed Martial Arts Initiative, a non-profit organization that gives inner city youth the opportunity to experience the emotional and physical benefits of martial arts training.  Justin lives in New York City where he trains in jiu jitsu and boxing.


The information in this post and on my site consists of my opinion only, i.e., it is not the opinion of my employer or anybody else. In addition, and because this is my opinion, it is not intended to be (and is not) legal advice or an advertisement for legal services. This post provides general information only. Although I encourage interested parties to contact me on the subjects discussed in the articles, the reader should not consider information on this site to be an invitation for an attorney-client relationship.  I disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any contents of this post. Any e-mail sent to me will not create an attorney-client relationship, and you should not use this site or my site to send me e-mail containing confidential or sensitive information.


UFC Fight Night Seattle: Payout Perspective

March 28, 2011

Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective featuring UFC Fight Night from the KeyArena in Seattle, Washington. The main event featured Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis versus Antonio Rogerio Noguiera.

MMA Payout was on the scene. The first fight started at 2:45pm. Even with an early start time, there were a considerable amount of fans in their seats in the lower bowl and even the upper section.

Attendance and Gate

As previously reported, the event was a sellout as it surpassed the UFC’s expectations. Originally scheduled to house 8,000 fans, the UFC quickly recalibrated to open the upper bowl of the KeyArena so that 14,000 fans could attend. And on Friday, the UFC released an additional 842 seats. The KeyArena has a lower bowl and an upper bowl separated by a suite level. Both upper and lower bowls were filled when the main card started and all of the suites were occupied. I’d venture to say that 3/4 of the arena was filled by the time the Facebook fights started at 4:30pm.


MMA Junkie reports the bonuses as follows:

Korean Zombie – Submission of the Night

Johnny Hendricks – KO of the Night

Edwin Figueroa and Michael McDonald – Fight of the Night

Each received $55,000 bonuses, the most of any Fight Night.


Seattle’s local newspaper, the Seattle Times did the most in terms of local press leading up to the fight. It included a web chat Wednesday with Dana White which reportedly drew a huge number of people logging into the chat. In addition, the Seattle Times Seahawks beat writer, Danny O’Neill, wrote most of the UFC stories. O’Neill, a big MMA fan, had a great piece on Dan Hardy’s visit to Bruce Lee’s grave.

Sports columnist Steve Kelley had a nice write-up on attending his first UFC fight. While Kelley has covered boxing in the past, he was impressed by the UFC.

Via Seattle Times:

These fights seemed almost primal. The octagonal cage, even more so than a boxing ring, makes a fighter feel as if there is no way out.

The mixture of ways to win, the one-overwhelming punch, the knockout kicks, the elbows to the chops, knees to the rib cage and the wrestling-style take downs, add spice to the sport

The fight was hypnotizing. It was impossible to look away. I felt myself holding my breath, just like Hagler-Leonard or Leonard-Hearns.

A good piece by Kelley who will have the unfortunate task this summer of writing columns on the Seattle Mariners.

In addition, the local Fox  tv affiliate followed Johnny Hendricks before his fight Saturday night. A good guy to follow since he won KO of the night.

Sponsorship Watch

Bud Light had the center of the ring while SafeAuto Insurance continued with a steady presence in the UFC. Dan Hardy was the latest to wear SafeAuto as a sponsor. He even wore the “SA” emblem on his trademark bandana over his face on his walkout.

Spike TV hyped up The Ultimate Fighter premiere this week as well as its new reality show, “Coal”.

A lot more fighters wore the FVSTR clothing brand including Anthony Johnson.

Antonio Rogierio Noguiera sported the new Tapout track suit in white.

The Korean Zombie sported a MusclePharm t-shirt instead of his very popular Tri Coasta “Korean Zombie” t-shirt. In fact, it appeared that Zombie no longer had Tri Coasta as a sponsor.

Odds and Ends

FightLink – The UFC offered an in-arena radio transmitter where you could listen to the audio play-by-play. The device also is an AM-FM radio. You could use the device at any UFC event you attend.  The device had a price point of $20. An increase of $10 from a three years ago.

UFC Visa – The UFC is offering fans a chance to have a UFC visa.

From an informal survey of the crowd, it looked like the Korean Zombie t-shirt was the most popular amongst Seattle fans. There were also a smattering of Dan Hardy shirts too.

Evil Everywhere – Jens Pulver was in attendance on Saturday night. He shook hands, took pictures with fans and was literally all over the arena.  Pulver seemed to enjoy the fan recognition and didn’t mind stopping when noticed.

Payout Perspective:

The Seattle fans were knowledgeable and appreciated the fights. There were a lot of standing cheers after a spirited round and general applause at the end of a good fight. I was impressed by the amount of people that showed up in the afternoon for the undercard even though there were NCAA basketball games on tv.

Seattle is fertile ground for the UFC.  Matt Hume’s AMC Pankration and Ivan Salaverry’s gym are popular in the area and Mario Miranda received one of the bigger ovations prior to his match with Aaron Simpson. The attendance blew away expectations and the KeyArena is a great venue for the UFC. Without an NBA team in the city, KeyArena is home to Seattle University basketball and the WNBA’s Seattle Storm in the summer. There is a smattering of concerts and WWE events as well. But, the KeyArena had not been that packed since the Sonics were in Seattle.

Overall, the Northwest is a region that the UFC should capitalize on. UFC 102 in Portland grabbed 16,000 fans and UFC 115 in Vancouver garnered over 17,500 fans . UFC 131 in Vancouver should surpass last year’s event considering Brock Lesnar will main event the card.

White indicated that the UFC will be back and could host a future PPV.

UFC Fight Night Seattle a sellout, gate of $1.1 million

March 27, 2011

MMA Weekly reports via twitter that Seattle’s UFC Fight Night was a sellout of over 14,212 with a gate of $1,182,850. The draw was the most out of any UFC Fight Nights.

The event was scheduled to house 8,000 but increased demand had the UFC open the upper bowl of the KeyArena. On Friday, the UFC released an additional 842 tickets. The good showing by the Seattle crowd guaranteed a UFC return and the possibility of a future PPV at the KeyArena. Perhaps, one day it will also have an NBA team.

MMA Payout was at the event last night and will report more later today.

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