UFC 129: Payout Perspective – Part 2

May 4, 2011

Welcome to the second part of UFC 129’s Payout Perspective.  

 PPV Buy Rate trending at estimated 800K-900K (Updated 5/5)

Dave Metzler at the Wrestling Observer (subscription required) stated that the trending buy rate for UFC 129 will be between 800-900K. It was estimated to be around 1 million buys earlier. The explanation between trending numbers and estimate numbers is here.

While an early estimate had PPV buys at 1 million, the 800-900K range is not bad considering GSP’s last showing in December grabbed 785K. The last 3 PPVs going over 1 million was Lesnar-Velasquez last October, Lesnar-Carwin in July and Evans-Jackson last May. UFC 129 was a strong card at the top with GSP and Couture. It also had a title fight between Aldo and Hominick as well as former WEC lightweight champ Benson Henderson.

UFC Programming

UFC Primetime Series

In addition to the traditional UFC Countdown show, the UFC ran its “Primetime” series. The three-part series featuring the fight camps of GSP and Shields did not receive big ratings as Primetimes of past, but it was on more channels than past Primetimes. The big news was that UFC Primetime showed up unannounced on ESPN2 the same night the second episode ran on Spike TV. As fight week came to a close, the UFC Primetime and Countdown series appeared on ION, Versus, ESPN2 and Fuel TV. Certainly the goal was not receiving a big rating for one showing, but to have multiple eyeballs on the programming on multiple networks.

UPDATED:  Here is the breakdown of ratings for the UFC Primetime series:

Episode 1:  610,000 viewers

Episode 2: 475,000 viewers

Episode 3:  384,000 viewers

These numbers are well below prior Primetime series. The low numbers are a little surprising since prior Primetimes featuring GSP have done well.

The UFC Countdown show on 4/26 did 390,000 viewers. Pretty bad although the first running of the show was on a Tuesday at midnight ET/9PM PT.

UFC Prelims scored a strong 1.5 million viewers even though it aired an hour earlier.

Promoting UFC 129

The initial promotion of the event featured GSP vs. Shields. However, the key driver for the marketing of 129 was the 55,000 fans that attended the event. The UFC amended the opening of its PPV to mention the historic nature of the event.

The growth of the UFC and the 55,000 number was a key talking point in all of the media interviews that Dana White participated in for UFC 129. It is a pretty big deal to see how much the UFC has grown since its beginnings. It will be interesting to see how much farther the UFC can take MMA.

In addition to the GSP/Shields and 55K promos, the UFC included a pretty nice spot including Machida-Couture and Aldo-Hominick. It was a takeoff on an action movie trailer entitled, “The Cast of UFC 129.”


UFC Central on UFC.tv

The UFC introduced UFC Central as a way to attract more viewers online to UFC.tv.  UFC Central introduced a pre-fight and post-fight show for fans. It also gave fans the option to purchase the PPV online and take advantage of the differing camera angles of UFC.tv.  Prior to the ending of the PPV, it segued into the post-fight show on its broadcast to give viewers the opportunity to move over to their computers to watch online.

Time Change

Although moving up the PPV an hour, it did not seem to affect buys for the PPV (based on the trending buy rate) and the ratings for the UFC Prelims. We do not have information on the Facebook live streams, but we may assume that it received its share of viewers as the fights on Facebook were very entertaining. While it’s not expected that the UFC will receive 1 million buys, it appears that fans got the word that the PPV started an hour early. 

More Sponsors

The usual suspects ruled the Octagon including BSN, Harley Davidson, Xyience, Toyo Tires and Bud Light in the center.

Tapout was the presenting sponsor as well as on the mat in the Octagon

It was a nice touch having Mortal Kombat sponsoring the Tale of the Tape for the main event.

Interesting that GSP included his twitter handle on his Affliction shorts. I can only recall Rampage Jackson having his twitter account that prevalent on his shorts. It would be interesting to see how the GSP brand monetizes its twitter account.

Brand Activation

Apply online to be a UFC fighter at Jobbi.com

The UFC offered people the chance to apply to be a fighter online with UFC sponsor Jobbi.com. Even though I believe the chances of applying and being picked to fight in the Octagon are slim, it’s a novel way for the UFC and Jobbi to work together.

Xyience Ultimate Access with Jon Jones 

It was interesting that this contest was promoted prior to Jones winning the title which made the contest much more attractive. The crux of the promotion was that two fans would attend UFC 129 and then hang out with Jon Jones and two Xyience models.

Round 5 offers GSP collectible and chance to be a figure

Round 5 gave fans attending the UFC Fan Expo the chance to purchase a limited edition GSP figure. It also gave purchasers of the GSP figure an opportunity to have their likeness made into a figure.

MMA Elite new sports drink

The clothing brand company rolled out its new sports drink at the UFC Fan Expo. BJ Penn made an appearance at the booth to promote the drink.

More Odds and Ends

Super 7 appear together for first time

The seven current UFC Champions appeared on stage for the first time ever. It was a nice touch by the UFC for all of the champs to gather together. The gathering gave look at the present and glimpse into the future of the UFC.

UFC introduces UFCLatino.com

Not only did the UFC launch UFC Central during the runup to UFC 129, but it launched UFCLatino.com. Catering to the Latino community, it will feature the likes of Cain Velasquez and Dominick Cruz on its site.

Couture comments spur thoughts of fighter’s union

In an interview with ESPN, Randy Couture stated that he’d like to see fighters with health care and some sort of pension after their career in the Octagon ends. Although Couture stated that he would be against a union, he believed that a compromise could be worked out with Zuffa.

 Zuffa sued

A local convention operator sued Zuffa for its UFC Fan Expo mark. Despite the lawsuit, the fan expo went on without a hitch.

Overall, UFC 129 was a great card.  While some debate the quality of the main event, the overall product receives a thumbs up. From the Facebook fights until the main event, the quality of fights were entertaining and exciting.  It seemed like the fighters stepped up their game for the moment.  Airing all of the fights on Facebook, Spike TV or PPV was a good choice by the UFC. For such a monumental event, all of the fights deserved to be seen.

2 Responses to “UFC 129: Payout Perspective – Part 2”

  1. el chango on May 5th, 2011 12:54 PM

    SPike tv moved all UFC programming on Wednesday to make room for ‘Coal’ but it has now moved that show to Sunday. Clearly, Spike tv realized it made a mistake that not only didn’t pay off with ‘Coal’ but hurt UFC programming ratings.

    Moving primetime and the countdown show to midnight was a bad move all around.

    Now about the ratings for those show. UFC was uploading the shows to their online pages and getting hundreds of thousands of views there. A lot of people seem to wait for the UFC preview shows to show up online instead of watching them on Spike. A new trend?

  2. Nicholas T. on May 5th, 2011 11:15 PM

    I know this is a little nitpicking on my part, but could you please spell Dave’s name correctly? No, I’m not related to him, but I keep seeing his name spelled incorrectly (should be Meltzer, not Metzler) and I think the least you guys could do when quoting him is that you spell his name correctly.

    Other than that, keep up the good work. I enjoy reading your site’s perspective on the financial side of MMA.

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