Alistair Overeem leaves Golden Glory

September 23, 2011

MMA Fighting reports that Alistair Overeem has left the managing stable of Golden Glory. Overeem’s decision to leave was due to “a breach of trust.”

Via MMA Fighting:

With Overeem only stating that “a breach of trust” was the reason for his departure, details behind the split are up for speculation and many people may be quick to point the finger at the recent issues between Golden Glory and Zuffa.

Overeem’s former manager, Bas Boon, indicated that Overeem’s departure was not related to the recent Zuffa-Golden Glory squabble which saw Zuffa cut Overeem, his brother, Valentijn, and Marloes Coenen. In a press release, Boon cited the current state of the fight business (outside of Zuffa we presume) as the culprit as he cited the fact that Golden Glory fighters are owed money from FEG and K-1. Boon cited the fact that Overeem is fighting in the UFC this December as a sign that the Zuffa-Golden Glory relationship is not fractured. But it appears that the money owed Overeem from other fight organizations may be the reason for the split.

Payout Perspective:

Overeem’s departure is interesting considering it occurred after Golden Glory negotiated his contract for the Lesnar fight. This is another example of the tenuous business of fight management. We will see if Overeem decides to sign with another agent and, if so, whether the agent will make an effort to collect the past debt from the organizations.

The Ultimate Fighter 14 Ep. 1: 1.5 million viewers

September 23, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that the debut of TUF 14 drew a 1.5 million viewer average in its last season on Spike TV. The two hour premiere which featured nothing by fights was the number one rated show in its timeslot among the key demos of males 18-34 and 18-49.

Via MMA Junkie:

The ratings were on par with past seasons of the long-running reality-competition series. The “TUF 13” debut scored 1.5 million viewers, “TUF 12” drew 1.6 million, and “TUF 11” scored scored 1.9 million. A heavily anticipated heavyweights-only 10th season shattered records with 4.1 million viewers for its debut in 2010.

Payout Perspective:

Despite moving back to its preferred timeslot the UFC still scored the same rating as last season’s debut. Still, Dana White still seemed pretty happy with the viewership. This season will prove to be interesting as its the first time that bantamweights and featherweights will be featured. We’ll see if TUF 14 can improve on the 1.5 million viewer average.

Dana White: UFC will be on Spike TV in 2012, Spike Not Honoring “Spirit of the Deal”, & Strikeforce’s Future

September 22, 2011

During UFC 135’s press conference, MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani spoke to UFC President Dana White regarding their current relationship with Spike TV, Bellator airing on Spike.com, and what we can expect from UFC shoulder programming in 2012.

Spike currently owns the UFC library through 2012, and by doing so, cannot air content from another MMA promotion – such as Bellator – until the deal expires or UFC buys back the library.  When Helwani asked White if the UFC was planning on buying the library back from Spike, he firmly stated that the “UFC will be on Spike TV in 2012”.  That of course means that Spike would then be contractually obligated to UFC programming throughout next year and Bellator would stay on MTV 2 and Spike.com until the life of the contract expires.

When Dana was asked about Bellator airing on Spike.com on the same day as UFC live programming, white stated the following:

“If you really look at what I call ‘the spirit of the deal’, it’s the wrong thing to do. The thing is, you have to understand, in my opinion it’s Spike not being honorable. They’re not being honorable. And they know. Kevin knows, Brian, all the guys who have dealt with me at Spike TV, I’ve been nothing but honorable with them. Everything that I did was to build the UFC and Spike TV. I’ve been a fantastic partner. Whatever they’ve needed from me I’ve done for them and helped them get to where they are today, just like they’ve helped us get to where we are today. And what they’re doing, if that’s the case, and they’re running these things on Spike.com, that’s not the spirit of the deal and they are being 100% not honorable. “

In terms of Strikeforce and their future, White stated that their existence relies completely on whether Showtime wants to stay in the MMA business.  Their deal is up on February/March of 2012 and a decision of whether to exercise a 2-year option – which would extend the current TV deal until 2014 – has to come from Showtime by the end of October.

When asked about Women’s MMA, White suggested that Women’s MMA will be promoted under the Zuffa banner “as long as Strikeforce is around”. Since ZUFFA acquired Strikeforce,  their champions and most marketable fighters – Nick Diaz, Alistair Overeem, and Dan Henderson to name a few – have since signed to fight in the UFC and have vacated their Strikeforce belts. Cung Le, another main staple in Strikeforce, is scheduled to be part of the UFC 139 co-main event, which will take place in San Jose, Strikeforce’s old home-base.

 

Payout Perspective:

The library rights that Spike currently owns is a key chess piece here being utilized by the UFC and Spike.  By keeping UFC programming on Spike, they can continue to distribute their content on Spike, which is synonymous to many as the home of MMA and the UFC.  They are also essentially keeping Bellator off of Spike for another year.  At the same time, Spike can use UFC’s programming to counter live events which will be shown on FOX, FX, and Fuel TV.  They can also use UFC programming to promote Bellator on MTV 2 and Spike.com, which they have been doing for months now, ever since negotiating a future deal with the UFC earlier this year.

As for UFC’s new partner, FOX, keeping the library on Spike prevents FX and Fuel TV from airing any shoulder programming, which will make it that much tougher to convert current Spike viewers to switch over.  Without having access to shows like Unleashed, previous TUF seasons, and old UFC events, Fuel TV and FX will have to solely rely on live events in 2012, which will not produce enough programming to get MMA fans to tune in to FX or Fuel TV on a regular basis to catch UFC programming, as they have become accustomed to at Spike TV.

In the end, it seems that UFC programming will be on multiple platforms in 2012.  The problem is that this scenario creates an interesting transitional stage for the UFC.  We can already see this with the first UFC on FOX event, which will only feature one bout.  The co-main event of Ben Henderson vs Clay Guida currently has no TV platform because Spike still has rights to UFC content through 2011, with the exception of the UFC doing network events.  FX and Fuel TV are cable channels, which is in the same tier as Spike TV. Unless FOX or another network channel – highly doubtful – chooses to air the prelims, we will most likely see the co-main event and other prelims on the card air on Facebook or on one of FOX’s website, which is a huge blow to the fighters and their sponsors.  The exception would be if the main event – Cain Velasquez vs Junior Dos Santos – ends quick enough so that FOX can try and air some prelims, but there’s not much of a guarantee with a 1-hour time slot.

Is GSP the UFC’s biggest PPV star?

September 22, 2011

After the UFC 135 press conference yesterday, Dana White told reports that Georges St. Pierre is the biggest PPV star in MMA today. This, despite the numbers reflecting that Brock Lesnar should hold that distinction.

White did state that GSP’s fight style has changed. Nevertheless, White believes he’s the top draw regardless. White might be pushing this statement and its likely to hype GSP’s upcoming fight. But, the numbers reflect that Brock Lesnar is the top MMA draw when it comes to PPV.

Via the Blue Book:

Brock Lesnar

UFC 121 vs. Velasquez – 1,050,000

UFC 116 vs. Carwin – 1,160,000

UFC 100 vs. Mir – 1,600,000

UFC 91 vs. Couture – 1,010,000

UFC 87 vs. Herring – 625K

UFC 81 vs. Mir – 600K

GSP

UFC 129 vs. Shields – 800K

UFC 124 vs. Koscheck – 785K

UFC 111 vs. Hardy – 710K

UFC 100 vs. Alves – 1,600,000

UFC 94 vs. BJ Penn – 920K

UFC 87 vs. Jon Fitch – 625K

UFC 82 vs. Serra (GSP regains title) – 530K

The two have shared the same card twice: UFC 87 and UFC 100.

Payout Perspective:

Looking at the numbers, Brock Lesnar is the king of PPV buy rates for the UFC. We should see a huge spike in PPV buys as he takes on Alistair Overeem at the end of the year. But, I believe White is making the point that GSP is the standard for MMA. Definitely, losing to Matt Serra has caused a change in his style and while he is winning, he is not finishing off opponents. Could the GSP decisions reflect the PPV buy rate between the two fighters? Or, is it once again the fact that fight fans favor the heavyweights? In case you were wondering, Anderson Silva has not surpassed a 1 million PPV buys in any of his main events. The highest buy rate for The Spider was 725K last February against Vitor Belfort.

Mayweather-Ortiz: Payout Perspective

September 21, 2011

Welcome to a special edition of Payout Perspective as we take a look back at Saturday’s fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas featuring Floyd Mayweather taking on Victor Ortiz.

Mayweather wins via controversial TKO

“Protect yourself at all times.” Oftentimes glossed over in instructions for MMA and boxing, Mayweather used this rule as support for his one-two combination to end the fight with Victor Ortiz. After a couple days, the consensus is that Ortiz was culpable for the outcome as much (if not more) than Mayweather and referee Joe Cortes.

All parties are at fault to a certain extent. Cortes is at fault for losing his ring. Dana White succinctly explained the issue in a couple tweets stating it was the ref’s fault. Ortiz forgot the “protect yourself at all times” rule in his daze to apologize. Mayweather took advantage of the rule. But still, he feigned a hug and then punched Ortiz. Of the three, Mayweather is the least culpable for the ending. Certainly Mayweather could have foreshadowed his attack by perhaps pushing Ortiz back and then attacking. But the two punch combo looked WWE-like if you couple Cortes head looking the other way.

Merchant vs. Mayweather

After the fight, Larry Merchant and Floyd Mayweather had another run-in which ended in Merchant putting himself over by stating that if he was 50 years younger he would fight him.  This was preceded by Mayweather telling Merchant what some people have had on their minds for years: that Merchant should be fired. Honestly, it was entertaining but not professional. The interview itself was not coherent and Merchant asked leading questions when it was not necessary. It was merely to evoke a response from Mayweather.  For Mayweather, he seemed to have a shorter fuse with Merchant (as the two have a history of not getting along)  than usual.

“Star Power”/HBO’s 24-7 Promotion

The fight theme, “Star Power” really  made no sense as Mayweather was the only star on the card. You could argue that Erik Morales and Canelo Alvarez are stars but that would be stretch. Morales is past his prime and Alvarez is a boxer that one day may be a star. Both had good wins but Mayweather was the star of the night.

This was the first time that Time Warner utilized its media muscle by including HBO’s 24/7 on CNN as well as having Victor Ortiz and Oscar de la Hoya on “Piers Morgan Tonight.” The fight was promoted throughout the Time Warner networks and online. In addition, Floyd Mayweather made a guest appearance on TBS’ Conan.

The HBO 24/7 series was made for Floyd Mayweather. Nothing against Manny Pacquiao, but Mayweather understands the drama as exemplified by the first episode confrontation with his father. The Victor Ortiz story helped keep interest in the series and its a shame that Ortiz’ antics erased the good PR he had from the show.

One of the things that is used time and again to promote these big fights is the face off between the two. This time it was HBO airing Mayweather and Ortiz talking with Max Kellerman as the moderator. Its hard to watch and I’d be interested to hear what others think of this format.  Does it sell a fight?

Sponsors

-DeWalt Tools, AT&T and Tecate were on the ring mat in Las Vegas.

-Notably, Erik Morales was sponsored by Under Armour.

-Tecate jumped on board in promoting the fight including a focus in the Southern California region. The promotion included a heavy investment of $800,000 in marketing and promotion of the event which included the event at the Staples Center. This was a calculated promotion that

Payouts, PPV and Tickets

-The NY Times had a report on the payout structure Floyd Mayweather had in place for the fight  which estimates that he would receive close to $40 million. In comparison, Mayweather Productions would pay Victor Ortiz $2.5 million. The Mayweather deal is interesting when looking at the risk-reward. While Mayweather used his own money for marketing the event, he’s receiving a healthy portion of the profits.

-Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports tweeted that initial reports of the PPV buys was 1.3-1.4 million which is below the initial hope of breaking the boxing PPV record of 2.4 million set by Mayweather-De La Hoya.

-While there was a push for the PPV, the MGM Grand was giving away tickets during fight week as the actual attendance was nowhere near a sellout. In comparison, Pacquiao-Marquez is a virtual sellout according to a tweet from ESPN’s Dan Rafael who spoke with Top Rank’s Todd DuBoef.

Odds and ends

-The price for the PPV rose $5 to $69.99. Its likely to be the same price point for Pacquiao-Marquez III. How much higher will it go for a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight?

-Mario Solis did an admirable job of interviewing and translating at the same time when he interviewed Gomez and Alvarez post-fight.

-Best quote of the HBO 24/7 occurred in the first 10 minutes of the first episode. Regarding Mayweather going into his training camp, “…any impact the hiatus (15 months) will have on his skills will soon be determined, the swagger meanwhile remains untouched.”

-50 Cent, Ray J and Mr. Chop (from the reality series “King of Cars”) made cameos in the 24/7 series as friends of Mayweather.

Tate signs deal with Toyo Tires

September 21, 2011

The Strikeforce welterweight women’s champion, Miesha Tate, has signed a sponsorship deal with Toyo Tires. Tate wore the Toyo Tires logo on her fight shorts when she won the title from Marloes Coenen in July.

Via Toyo Tires press release:

Tate is a native of Tacoma, Washington, and was the 2010 WMMA (Women’s Mixed Martial Arts) Fighter of the Year.  Associated with Team Alpha Male, the 25-year old, 5-foot 6-inch Tate fights in the 135 lb. weight class and has a background in wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu.  In addition to wearing the Toyo Tires® logo on her fight shorts, Tate will also promote the Toyo Tires brand through appearances and additional marketing efforts.

Payout Perspective:

Even though many are counting down the days of Strikeforce, Tate has scored a sponsorship deal with Toyo Tires. Its a good deal since it involves her inside and outside the ring. This helps the Miesha Tate brand and forges her identity in women’s MMA. Certainly, with Gina Carano out of action, Tate is becoming the face of women’s MMA. Tate joins the Toyo Tires stable which recently signed Anthony Pettis and Mark Munoz.

Bellator 50 receives MTV 2 low of 114,000 viewers

September 21, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that Saturday night’s Bellator 50 received an all-time low of 114,000 viewers. Although it tried a special start time (7pm ET/PT) to avoid conflicting with other events, the ratings reflect otherwise.

A re-airing of the card on the same night garnered just 94,000 viewers although the rebroadcast occurred during Mayweather-Ortiz.

Payout Perspective:

Bellator 50 was the first card where Spike.com streamed its prelims worldwide. It would be interesting to see the viewership for those fights. Despite its efforts, its clear that the busy night of fights and football contributed to the low number. Certainly, Bellator hopes that the ratings will bounce back but going up against Rampage-Jones this Saturday may not be the weekend for the rebound.

UFC Fight Night 25: 1.8 million viewers

September 20, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that UFC Fignt Night 25 held on Saturday night scored an average of 1.8 million viewers on Spike TV. It was the number one cable show in its time slot among the key demo of males 18-34.

The rating also ranked second in its time slot behind college football on ESPN among males 18-49. Despite the good ratings,the numbers are down slightly compared to the past two UFC Fight Nights which received 1.85 (Fight Night 23) and 2.2 (Fight Night 24) respectively.

Payout Perspective:

This is a decent number considering the card and the fact it ran opposite Bellator and football. Its not clear how many people were drawn away from MMA to watch Mayweather-Ortiz but looking at the rating you cannot rule out this factor. If you are Bud Light, the ratings have to be disappointing considering it was the first one presented by Bud Light. We will see if it promotes future shows when the promotion moves to Fox.

UFC on FOX Event Sells Out Ad Inventory for Network Debut

September 20, 2011

During today’s UFC on FOX press conference, FOX Sports President Eric Shanks announced that all ad inventory has been sold as of yesterday (9/19) for the November 19 event scheduled to take place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

The event sold out out it’s ad inventory just one month after announcing the event (two months before it’s scheduled to take place) when the newly signed seven year TV deal between the UFC and FOX was announced.  MMAFighting reports:

The quick sellout is a positive sign that blue-chip, corporate sponsors are willing to test the waters. In turn, that should mean new opportunities for fighters as well.

“We’ve gotten more credibility now because we’re on FOX with all these big sports leagues,” UFC president Dana White said. “The fact these guys are reaching out to these other sponsors and they’ve had a great response is big not only for us, but for the fighters, too. This will trickle down to everybody. It’s a big deal and yes, it’s been great and it’s only going to get better.”

 

Payout Perspective:

A few weeks back, AdWeek.com, summarized the past relationship between blue-chip sponsors and the UFC perfectly:

“Given the bloodshed and controlled violence that are hallmarks of mixed martial arts events, advertisers understandably have been skittish about aligning themselves with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. But in the run-up to the UFC’s national broadcast TV debut, media buyers say demand for Fox’s new sports property should be fast and furious.”

Kevin Collins, director of national broadcast buying for Initiative, said the following regarding UFC and mainstream sponsors:

“Content is definitely an issue, but no one’s going into this with their eyes closed…You’re not going to get your traditional Sunday NFL audience, but I expect you’ll find a lot of theatrical dollars, as well as QSR and beer.”

According to FOX Sports chairman David Hill, FOX did it’s due diligence – 10 years worth of research data – before signing the TV deal with the UFC. They don’t appear to be worried about the sponsorship aspect of the deal.  “There might be a few companies that have a ‘Do Not Buy’ on the UFC, but there are a hell of a lot of companies that have a ‘Do Buy.’ If you look at the history of the Fox sports media group and what we do, we didn’t go into this with our fingers crossed” said Hill.

UFC President Dana White also shared his thoughts with MMAWeekly:

The hope is that the ad revenues will continue to grow across the board, and the trickle down will hit everything from the UFC itself to the fighters competing on the show.

“Us getting this Fox deal has already taken us to another level,” said White. “We’ve gotten more credibility now because we’re on Fox with all these big sports leagues, and the fact that these guys are reaching out to these other sponsors and they’ve had a great response is big. Not only for us, but for the fighters too.”

 

SPONSOR QUOTES FROM ADWEEK:

– “One national TV buyer who represents a client that has bought time on Spike TV’s UFC programming said he wouldn’t be at all surprised to see more mainstream brands begin to line up for MMA events.”

– “It’s not going to work for everyone,” said one entertainment buyer. “Some clients are more skittish than others. But we have good relationships with the Fox Sports guys, and we trust that they won’t burn us if we decide to test the waters.”

According to MMAPayout sources, big name sponsors such as Nike, Under Armour, and others who typically sponsor major sporting events (NFL, MLB, NASCAR, etc) on the network have stepped in to purchase the ad slots.  As CBS has told us in the past, ad sales and ratings are the two most important criteria in terms of gauging a successful network debut for MMA events.  After this week, FOX and the UFC now only need to focus on providing a quality event and attain a good viewership number in order to retain sponsors for future shows.

NOTE: A key point to make here is that although the UFC on FOX event sold out all of it’s ad inventory in about a month after announcing the event, the ad time slots they sold were only for a one-hour show, unlike the CBS shows which were two-hour slots. UFC on FOX only had half the ad time slots to sell for this event compared to a typical two-hour MMA network event.

Mayhem appears on Fallon to promote TUF

September 20, 2011

On Thursday of last week, Jason “Mayhem” Miller appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on NBC to promote The Ultimate Fighter. Miller showed no signs of nervousness in his short spot on the show.

Via NBC (h/t Cage Potato):

Payout Perspective:

With Rampage and Jon Jones on Jimmy Kimmel last night, the late night talk show circuit seems like a new place for MMA fighters to test out their new celebrity. Miller did a great job of getting out all of the talking points in the stream of the interview. He definitely will add to the viewership this season.  In addition, his twitter feed got a boost from Fallon as Fallon complemented his tweets.  Does this give Miller an unfair edge in the quarterly bonuses (j/k)?

« Previous PageNext Page »